Are Anti-Virus Features a Must-Have in Your Next Car?
With every new car launch, the automaker would boast of its engine, power, speed, comfort, safety, entertainment, etc. But in a post-COVID-19 world, there is a new type of spec that automakers are marketing—decontamination. Car manufacturers are positioning their cars as “anti-virus”, and not of the software kind (although that would a legitimate concern for connected cars, that’s for another story).
Chinese-owned Geely was one of the first since the outbreak to claim that they have developed a filtration system, which meets the N95 standard, to keep the virus at bay. Their Healthy Car Project was already underway prior to the pandemic as many of the most air-polluted cities in the world are in China and initially focused on preventing air particles from entering the vehicle, but Geely has pivoted their marketing to promote their filtration technology as anti-virus and anti-bacteria. The automaker says that they are also now looking into developing anti-microbial materials for surfaces to keep some of the germiest parts of the car—eg. door handles and controls—clean. Taking it one step further, Geely has been delivering keys to customers using drones (now, that’s just getting gimmicky).
Fellow Chinese automaker, SAIC, which also owns the British marque, MG, is equipping some of their cars with UV light that sterilizes the air that passes through the AC system. Fiat introduced the D-Fence package in their recently launched Fiat 500 and Panda Hybrids, which offers high-performance air filter and purifier, and UV disinfectant technology to “destroy” virus on interior surfaces.
Hyundai Motors claims, in a recent press release, that they have been using “anti-bacterial paint or elements on the interior” as part of what they call their “healthcare program” since before the outbreak, such as in their 2011 Hyundai Sonata, and that “people would safely touch and use handles, pillar trims, floors, and mats”. The South Korean automaker also says that they are developing “self-sterilizing materials to maintain clean, antiviral, and antibacterial cabins.”
These are all rather bold and suspiciously out-of-the-blue claims, which experts and analysts are skeptical of. The effectiveness of these in-car features in virus prevention has yet to be proven and they are warning consumers to be wary of manufacturers who are taking advantage of health concerns to sell cars and additional “health” features at a premium.
Regardless, car hygiene and maintenance have become important issues in this new normal that we are living in. Check out our other articles on how to keep your car clean and healthy, inside and out: