Reuters have reported U.S. supplier Honeywell’s joint venture with chemicals company DuPont to produce R1234yf refrigerant for car air conditioning systems may be anti-competitive, following a near-three year EU probe.
The European Commission said the agreements between the two companies may have blocked rivals keen to participate in its development and production.
The refrigerant, which is designed to meet an EU directive aimed at reducing the use of fluorinated greenhouse gases in car air conditioning systems, has pitted EU regulators against Germany and domestic carmaker Daimler. Last month the Commission ordered Germany to stop supporting Daimler’s refusal to use the refrigerant with a higher “global warming potential” than the Honeywell-Dupont product within two months or face court action and possible fines.
Sales of Daimler cars in France were temporarily blocked in 2013 over their use of an older refrigerant. A French court later overturned the suspension. The new R1234yf coolant is already used in about 2 million cars globally.
When Honeywell and Dupont announced a joint venture to construct and operate a global manufacturing plant for the new refrigerant they said they had developed the product jointly but would market and sell it separately.
“The cooperation they entered into in 2010 … may have limited availability and technical development, in breach of EU antitrust rules,” the Commission said in a statement on Tuesday.
It sent a so-called statement of objections or charge sheet setting out its concerns to the companies. Honeywell rejected the charges, saying it had complied with EU rules.
“The allegations outlined in the statement of objections are baseless and conflict with the EU’s own laws that encourage collaboration on development,” the company said in a statement.
If found guilty, the companies could face fines of up to 10 percent of their global turnover.