PARIS (Reuters) -- France's move to outlaw sales of Mercedes-Benz cars that use an air conditioner refrigerant banned by the European Union is hitting dealers hard.
Mercedes dealer Oussama Kaddoura says the French government's decision not only stops him delivering cars already on order, but is also scaring new clients away from his showroom in east Paris.
"It's all over the media," Kaddoura said of the dispute that broke last month when it emerged that France had refused to register A-class, B-class and CLA-class models built since mid-June.
Kaddoura, whose Groupe Como has two other showrooms in the suburbs of Paris, says he has already had to halt delivery of 37 cars, a figure going up by four to five cars a day.
With his sales staff paid partly on a commission basis, he and other distributors are having to give them advances to help them pay their bills at the end of the month.
Moreover, many of the customers who were hoping to drive their shiny new Mercedes away for the French holiday season are car-less.
Kaddoura said he is either lending them a substitute vehicle or offering other sweeteners to stop them from cancelling their order. "I am trying to protect the image of Mercedes in France and find solutions for our customers," he said. "But what happens if this goes on? I can't lend out 400 cars."
Kaddoura said said a customer will not take the risk of placing an order when there is a risk the car won't be delivered. "Our rivals are happy," he said of competing German manufacturers of luxury autos such as BMW or Audi.
The dispute centers on a German decision to allow Mercedes' parent Daimler to continue using the refrigerant R134a -- a global-warming gas 1,400 times more potent than carbon dioxide -- because of the automaker's safety concerns about the replacement chemical, R1234yf.
Daimler says vehicles type-approved in Germany should be allowed to be registered anywhere in the EU.