PARIS (Bloomberg) -- Daimler won provisional backing from France's highest administrative court to overturn a suspension of Mercedes-Benz auto sales in the country amid an environmental dispute.
French authorities must resume registering Daimler's new Mercedes cars while judges decide on the legality of government moves against the models that use the air-conditioning refrigerant R134a that European Union regulators want to ban, the Council of State said on Tuesday in a statement.
Continued use of the substance doesn't appear to pose the immediate environmental threat that the government was citing in suspending registrations, and there is "serious doubt" about the justification, the Paris-based court said.
Daimler decided against using the newer R1234yf refrigerant in Mercedes A- and B-class compacts, the CLA four-door coupes and SL convertibles after determining it may catch fire in a car crash.
The French Ministry of Ecology, Development and Energy blocked new registrations of the models in July, saying use of the older substance violated EU environmental rules. Daimler says the vehicles are type-approved in Germany and should be allowed to be registered anywhere in the EU.
The verdict restores Daimler's access to the French market, where the company sold 15,745 Mercedes-Benz compact cars in the first six months of 2013, or about 2 percent of the brand's global deliveries in the period.
"We expect the French authorities to start registering our vehicles within the next 48 hours," Daimler said in a statement.