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Brief Published: 4 Jun 2020

Geely Presents Virus-Fighting Car of the Future

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Chinese automotive company Geely is pivoting its pollution technology to the Covid-19 crisis with a new car that can allegedly stave off pathogens and viruses, akin to wearing a mask. We dig into the company’s Healthy Car project and consider what this indicates about the automotive industry going forward.

Earlier this year, Geely launched its new compact SUV Icon in China. The launch introduced the company’s intelligent air-purification system that works with the car’s air conditioning to prevent pathogens from entering the car’s cabin and removing and eliminating those that do.

This new system promises an N95 certification, which translates to being able to keep 95% of airborne particles smaller than 0.3 microns out of the vehicle. The NIOSH (US National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health) rating system is also used to classify masks and ventilators, and describes that the vehicle offers roughly the same level of protection as a medical-grade mask.

The launch of this vehicle coincided with the announcement of Geely’s new Healthy Car programme, in which the company is investing 370m yuan ($52m) to develop health-driven vehicle technologies. This includes improved air-conditioning filters, micro-positive cabin-pressure technology to restrict contaminants from entering the vehicle and self-cleaning materials for heavily used touchpoints (such as handles and buttons).

Pathogen-filtering air systems are an existing focus for automotive manufacturers to appeal to health-conscious consumers, particularly in areas of high pollution such as China and India. However, this pandemic is spurring on these innovations and garnering global appeal.

The market for health and wellbeing-focused design in the automotive industry is evident in sales. Geely’s Icon received 30,000 pre-orders before its launch, and a further 10,000 orders by May – an impressive feat in a period heavily affected by the Covid-19 crisis. 

For how air-purifying devices are shifting from ‘nice to have’ to valued protection, see The Brief.

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