Are ‘anti-virus’ cars in China just a gimmick?

By Justin Harper
BBC News

Publishedduration1 May 2020shareSharenocloseShare pagelinkCopy linkAbout sharingRelated Topics

  • Coronavirus pandemic

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Car makers in China are tapping into health concerns by launching vehicles with anti-virus features.

New models aim to provide the same level of protection inside the cabin as wearing a face mask.

Some of the country's biggest carmakers have launched new cars with such features including Geely, which also makes London black cabs.

China saw car sales plummet in the first quarter of the year amid a nationwide coronavirus lockdown.

Geely was the first brand to launch anti-virus features, building on earlier work it was doing to appeal to motorists worried about air pollution in big cities.

Its “Healthy Car Project” aims to stop tiny particles entering the car, potentially protecting drivers and passengers from harmful substances.

Geely is also developing anti-microbial materials to keep its car controls and door handles free of bacteria and viruses.

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“Consumers spend a considerable amount time in their cars, akin to a ‘second home’. Only by making healthier products can we meet consumer demand for better quality of life,” said a Geely spokesman. "

Developing features to protect the health of drivers and passengers will become one its “key long-term development objectives.”

As part of Geely's "contactless" new car delivery it is using drones to pass keys to new customers, directly to their door or balcony to further limit interaction with staff.

SAIC, which owns the iconic British motoring brand MG, has added an optional feature of an ultraviolet lamp to sterilise air going through the car's air conditioning system.

Rival car maker Guangzhou Automobile, known as GAC, is offering a new three-level air filter system on many of its new models.

Research firm Frost & Sullivan thinks these new measures are more than just gimmicks.

“There is a definite focus on building health-wellness-wellbeing features in cars. The development of these features was already in the offing but Covid-19 has provided more impetus,” said Vivek Vaidya, a mobility expert at Frost & Sullivan.

Not only do such features address current hygiene and health issues but could be key differentiators for brands and models he believes. “This won’t be limited to China, but a global trend.”

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