If you haven’t heard of 1234yf yet then I can assure you that you will soon. Especially if you have a newer car that’s out of warranty. You’ll really hear about it then when you get a leak in your system and you get that nice recharge bill.
1234yf is the latest and greatest when it comes to automotive refrigerant. This new refrigerant is designed to take the place of the HFC R-134a. 134a has been used since the early 1990’s but has since fallen out of favor with companies and governments due to it’s high Global Warming Potential. While R-134a has already been phased out in the European Union it has not quite taken hold yet in the United States. Don’t get me wrong though folks it’s coming and it has been coming since 2013-2014. The first few models to start using YF in the United States were Fiat, then Chrysler, then Ford, then Toyota, and so on and so on. Heck, the truck I want to get next year (Toyota Tundra) is using 1234yf.
My point is folks that it’s everywhere and it’s growing fast. Give it a few years and R-134a will go the way of R-12. The only people using it will be clunkers or ‘antique’ car restorers. 1234yf with it’s expensive price tag will be the only real option for automotive applications at least until Daimler perfects their R-744 systems. So, the question is what will the pricing of 1234yf do next year in 2018? Will it remain the same, climb drastically, or start to decline? Let’s dive in and find out.
Like with any good analysis we have to look at the considerations and outside factors that will affect the price on 1234yf in 2018 before we can make an attempt at an accurate price prediction for next summer. Let’s take a look:
- I looked around online for a recent list from this year that would display all of the cars that were using 1234yf. I couldn’t find one but I did find one from 2015 and I have to say that even back then, nearly three years ago, there were a whole host of cars and manufacturers that had begun using 1234yf. With each passing year the amount of models using 1234yf will go up and with that more and more cars on the road will be using YF refrigerant. All of this is only going to increase demand for the new HFO refrigerant.
- While we will have that increased demand from the point I mentioned above the second point to bring up is that the two companies that make 1234yf, Honeywell and Chemours, have either opened or have broke ground on gigantic production plants here in the United States. Honeywell started building their plant a few years ago and has actually already opened their plant for business in May of this year. Their plant out of Geismar, Louisiana has now become the world’s largest site for producing 1234yf. Chemours isn’t as fast as Honeywell. They broke ground on their plant in February of this year and once their plant is finished it will triple their output potential on HFOs. Talk about an increase in supply.
- The last point that I’m going to make before I get onto my prediction is the planned EPA phase out of the HFC R-134a. The EPA announced this phase out under their ‘SNAP Rule 20,’ program. It basically said that R-134a would be unacceptable for use in new vehicles starting at the 2021 model year. While this Rule 20 from the EPA is contested in the courts right now the rest of the world is treating these phase outs as still active and ongoing. I am going to write my prediction here assuming that the EPA’s planned phase out stands. For more information on the EPA’s phase out of R-134a click here or you can read the excerpt from their site in the bulleted points below:
- Unacceptable as of Model Year (MY) 2021, except where allowed under a narrowed use limit through MY 2025.
- Acceptable, subject to narrowed use limits, for vehicles exported to countries with insufficient servicing infrastructure to support other alternatives, for MY 2021 through MY 2025.
- Unacceptable for all newly manufactured vehicles as of MY 2026.
I’ve been doing this price prediction articles for a few years now and it has given me a unique opportunity to see the trend in pricing of 1234yf over the years. Before I get into my prediction let’s take a quick look to see how the pricing has climbed over the years. Keep in mind that these prices are based off the standard 1234yf ten pound cylinder.
As you can see above folks the pricing on 1234yf has stayed pretty stable over the past few years. The only real increase I saw was this year and it was a very slight one at that. The price went up about ten dollars, or just over one percent. The thing to keep in mind here too is that this is the price of purchasing one ten pound cylinder. If you were to buy three, four, or even more you could easily get a price under that seven-hundred dollar mark.
Weighing the considerations I discussed above it basically boils down to will the new production facilities outweigh the demand for all of the new 1234yf vehicles on the road today? My thoughts are… yes. I believe that these new production facilities, especially Honeywell’s which has already opened, are going to increase the supply of YF refrigerant substantially and we could be looking at a lower price for 2018.
As time goes on and we get closer and closer to that 2020 (2021 Model Year) date for R-134a to go away we will definitely begin to see the price of 1234yf climb. More and more manufacturers will be using the new refrigerant the demand will be climbing and climbing.
As far as my prediction for 2018 I think we’ll see a slight decrease in pricing from where it’s at today for individual cylinders. With the new plant operating here in the states and another one set to open soon I think we’ll see prices go down about two to three percent in 2018. My predicted price is $690.00 for a ten pound cylinder of 1234yf.