Automotive HVAC market heats up

R-1234yf is mandated by the European Union for adoption in all cars by 2017; but production volumes, price and safety issues are causing concern.

02/25/2013


IMS Research (acquired by IHS, Inc.)The refrigerant R-1234yf used in automotive HVAC systems is causing controversy throughout the supply chain. R-1234yf is mandated by the European Union for adoption in all cars by 2017, but production volumes, price and safety issues are causing concern. A report from IMS Research (now part of IHS Inc.) titled, The World Market for Automotive OEM Electronic Systems – 2013 Edition, analyses what impact this refrigerant will have, the total automotive HVAC market and the split between manual and automatic HVAC. Analysis on 35 other automotive electronic systems is also included in this study.

Refrigerant R-1234yf has been developed for automotive HVAC units by Honeywell and DuPont. The aim is to replace the traditional R-134a refrigerant found in most automotive HVAC units, with the more environmentally friendly R-1234yf. However, with only two suppliers of this refrigerant, there has already been a shortage of R-1234yf. This production shortfall will need to be addressed for future applications.

An advantage of R-1234yf is that it can be used in current automotive HVAC systems, with few modifications. “Using R-1234yf in existing Tier 1 automotive HVAC systems would mean some alterations to system design. This could raise system price by $50-75”, said Ben Scott, analyst with IMS Research. “The price of R-1234yf is also considerably higher than R-134a.” This could be an issue for Tier 1s and OEMs alike as they look to justify the price to their customers.

Safety is critical in the automotive market. R-1234yf has been rigorously tested and meets safety regulations within the European Union. However, in its own independent study, Daimler has cast doubt onto the safety of this refrigerant. Daimler found R-1234yf to combust when it touches a hot engine, while R-134a did not, in the same test. “Although this could be a legitimate result to a test with R-1234yf, it could be Daimler trying to avoid using the new refrigerant, because of the high system and development cost”, said Scott. However, R-1234yf still has backing from Toyota and GM.

The controversy surrounding R-1234yf and R-134a needs to be resolved soon because this could impact the fitment of HVAC systems within cars. Some form of air conditioning is now expected to feature in most B and C segment vehicles, with a definite trend towards ‘automatic’ HVAC over ‘manual.’ It is estimated that globally, over one third of vehicles had automatic HVAC in 2010, rising to over half of all vehicles by 2020.



Consulting-Specifying Engineer's Product of the Year (POY) contest is the premier award for new products in the HVAC, fire, electrical, and...
Consulting-Specifying Engineer magazine is dedicated to encouraging and recognizing the most talented young individuals...
The MEP Giants program lists the top mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and fire protection engineering firms in the United States.
How to use IPD; 2017 Commissioning Giants; CFDs and harmonic mitigation; Eight steps to determine plumbing system requirements
2017 MEP Giants; Mergers and acquisitions report; ASHRAE 62.1; LEED v4 updates and tips; Understanding overcurrent protection
Integrating electrical and HVAC for energy efficiency; Mixed-use buildings; ASHRAE 90.4; Wireless fire alarms assessment and challenges
Power system design for high-performance buildings; mitigating arc flash hazards
Transformers; Electrical system design; Selecting and sizing transformers; Grounded and ungrounded system design, Paralleling generator systems
Commissioning electrical systems; Designing emergency and standby generator systems; VFDs in high-performance buildings
As brand protection manager for Eaton’s Electrical Sector, Tom Grace oversees counterfeit awareness...
Amara Rozgus is chief editor and content manager of Consulting-Specifier Engineer magazine.
IEEE power industry experts bring their combined experience in the electrical power industry...
Michael Heinsdorf, P.E., LEED AP, CDT is an Engineering Specification Writer at ARCOM MasterSpec.
Automation Engineer; Wood Group
System Integrator; Cross Integrated Systems Group
Fire & Life Safety Engineer; Technip USA Inc.
This course focuses on climate analysis, appropriateness of cooling system selection, and combining cooling systems.
This course will help identify and reveal electrical hazards and identify the solutions to implementing and maintaining a safe work environment.
This course explains how maintaining power and communication systems through emergency power-generation systems is critical.
click me