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Auto blogSun, 06 Jan 2013 09:00:00 EST
The case of Dupont and Honeywell's refrigerant R-1234yf is doing the exact opposite of keeping things cool. The two chemical companies have spent years and hundreds of millions of dollars developing R-1234yf to replace R-134a, the new refrigerant shown to be 99.7-percent kinder to the environment than the one it is meant to succeed. Part of that development has been years of testing by governments, outside safety agencies and automakers to approve the chemical for use in cars. It passed the protocols necessary for the European Union to declare that new and significantly revised cars from 2013 onward needed to use R-1234yf, and mandated that every car as of 2017 must use it.
Enter Daimler AG. The automaker created a head-on collision test with a B-Class at their Sindelfingen test track that would lead to the pressurized refrigerant being sprayed on the engine. The result in 20 out of 20 test was that the refrigerant burst into flames as soon as it hit the hot engine, while Daimler says that R-134a does not catch fire in the same test. Another unexpected result of the R-1234yf test was the release of hydrogen flouride, a chemical far more deadly to humans than hydrogen cyanide, emitted in such amounts that it that turned the windshield white as it began to eat into the glass.
Said a Daimler engineer in a Reuters piece, "It was scarcely believable. The most complicated lab tests conducted using the most sensitive measuring instruments around found nothing and all we do is drive a car around a couple of times, open a tiny hole in the refrigerant line and the next thing you know the car is on fire." So Daimler said it wouldn't use the refrigerant, and it recalled the cars it had already shipped with R-1234yf.
The dealer order guide for the 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA has made its way online courtesy of the crew at CLAForums.com, and not only does it shed light on the ways buyers will be able to configure the entry-level sedan, it talks specific option pricing. Shoppers will be able to select between the CLA250 and CLA250 4Matic, and the option sheet should offer a number of packages to suit buyer tastes, including a sport package with tweaked fascias and unique wheels. Bi-xenon headlamps and 18-inch alloys may also be had as well as a panoramic sunroof and a collision avoidance system. The CLA will be available with a number of active safety systems on board, including lane departure warning, adaptive cruise control, park assist and blind spot assist, to name a few.
The new sedan comes in 10 colors, including a very dashing purple Mecedes-Benz calls Northern Lights Violet, and there are a total of four interior trim finishes. The automaker hasn't released final pricing of all models just as of yet - we do know from Mercedes' Kate Upton Super Bowl ad that the car will start at $29,900 - but you can check out individual option and package pricing in the gallery. You can also find more information over at CLAForums.com.
Judging by how long we waited to get a clear shot of the Mercedes-Benz S500 Plug-in Hybrid, you'd have thought hybrid cars were only driven by Terminators and that the technology arrived only 48 hours ago through a wormhole in the Mercedes stand. The newest member of the Mercedes-Benz S-Class hybrid band - joining the S400 Hybrid and S350 BlueTEC Hybrid, it hits notes like a 5.5-second sprint from standstill to 62 miles per hour, up to 19 miles of ion-powered running and uses three liters of gasoline per 100 kilometers in Europe (78.41 mpg US, but our mpg test cycle is different than their mpg test cycle).
The lump up front is a turbocharged, 3.0-liter V6, the lump in back - note the reduction in trunk space - is a pack of lithium-ion batteries that juice an 80-kilowatt electric motor. Other than having four drive options for controlling electric drive and battery usage, it's all S-Class all the time, with leather-covered everything and those mountainous thrones that bring to mind words like "Archduke" and "Papal."
You'll find our hard-earned gallery from the Frankfurt Motor Show floor above, and more words of information in the press release below.