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Ford turns up the heat on COVID-19

Ford announces new cabin baking feature for Police Interceptors Utilities

28 May 2020

FORD Motor Company has turned up the heat in its efforts to stem the spread of the coronavirus, fitting its Police Interceptor Utility with a new cabin heating feature designed to “inactivate” any virus particles in the car.


Developed with the help of the Ohio State University, the system works by baking the car’s interior at 56 degrees Celsius or higher for 15 minutes and is available now on all 2013-19 Police Interceptor Utility vehicles.


When activated, the software purposely increases the engine temperature and raises the climate control and fan settings to their maximum settings to ensure the entire cabin has an ambient temperature of 56C or above before a subsequent cooldown protocol is activated at the end of the 15 minutes.


To ensure officers know when the system is operational, a series of pre-set flash sequences are carried out by the hazard and tail-lights with a separate sequence displayed at the end of the cycle during cooldown.


Ford chief product development and purchasing officer Hau Thai-Tang said first responders were in dire need of protective measures given they were on the front line protecting everybody else.


“We looked at what’s in our arsenal and how we could step up to help,” he said.


“In this case, we’ve turned the vehicle’s powertrain and heat control systems into a virus neutraliser.”


The specific duration of 15 minutes and set temperature of 56C (133 Fahrenheit) was settled upon by the Ohio State University.


According to Ohio State University department of microbiology laboratory supervisors Jeff Jahnes and Jesse Kwiek, “exposing coronaviruses to temperatures of 56 degrees Celsius, or 132.8 degrees Fahrenheit, for 15 minutes reduces the viral concentration by greater than 99 percent on interior surfaces”.


Ford meanwhile says that the system adds an extra level of thoroughness to the sanitisation guidelines approved by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention given that heat can “seep into crevices and hard-to-reach areas, helping reduce the impact of human error in applying chemical disinfectants”. 


Ford police brand marketing manager Stephen Tyler described COVID-19 as an “invisible enemy” and said he was proud Ford was able to provide a solution to help protect law enforcement agencies.


“Officers can now use this self-cleaning mode as an extra layer of protection inside the vehicle in areas where manual cleaning is prone to be overlooked,” he said.


“Delivering this new capability to these vehicles first allows us to help as many officers as possible, as quickly as possible.”


Field tested by the New York City Police Department, Los Angeles Police Department, Michigan State Police, Massachusetts State Police, Boardman Township Police Department and Seminole County Sheriff’s Office, the software can and will be installed at department service centres and or through the relevant local dealership networks.

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