Car manufacturers also compete in air purification
In the United States, the average person spends five years of their life in a car, which, despite its pollen filter, isn’t a perfect place in terms of air quality. Dashboard plastics contain many volatile chemicals, some of which are released into the passenger compartment air. In addition, roads act as “conduits” for air pollutants due to other vehicles.
Added to this are the particles that make up wildfire smoke, which are harmful to health and difficult to filter out. PM2.5, or particles 2.5 thousandths of a millimeter in diameter or smaller, which is often smoke, can cause breathing difficulties, coughing, throat scratching and asthma attacks.
Tesla started with a big launch
American Tesla beats practically everyone else when it comes to cleaning the air in the passenger compartment of a car. Since 2016, the company has been introducing the so-called BOD mode for its cars, that is, the “Bio Defense Mode”, which circulates the air in the passenger compartment through a highly efficient HEPA filter. When the system appeared, Tesla declared that the choice of the name was not just a marketing ploy at all, since it actually enables the vehicle’s occupants to survive biological attacks.
Other auto manufacturers have recently begun to engage with more efficient air cleaning, recognizing both the need and the business opportunity. For example, Mercedes-Benz designed a new three-layer filter system for the EQS sedan introduced in 2021. The solution available for the latest electric models filters out viruses and neutralizes smoke particles with activated carbon. Moreover, when the outside air becomes dusty, it automatically switches to the indoor air circulation.
BMW launched its system two years ago, which, like Mercedes, isn’t available for lower-priced models. According to BMW, when new, the cheaper air filtration systems provide similar performance to the premium system, but after two years, the latter is 16 times more efficient, since the cheaper systems lose so much in performance.
Speaking about the reason for the development, Mercedes’ head of air quality, Christopher Good, said there was “clear customer demand” for cleaner air. As his BMW colleague Andreas Wehrmeyer puts it, why they invested in technology: “The development incentives were mainly industrial regions with high pollution, such as Indonesia and Beijing.”
From premium to standard?
Today, high-performance air filters are still considered excellent, but this is by no means guaranteed. Just like the three-point seat belt in those days, advanced air cleaning solutions can also become standard equipment nowadays.
However, until that happens, companies that sell modified air filter systems have a lot to gain. There are countless solutions that, for example, can be attached to the center console to clean them by passing air through them. An article in the Detroit News gives the example of Sweden’s megaphone-like Luftrum device, which can make the air in the passenger compartment of an SUV clean in six minutes.