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January 15, 2021

Can clean air help you be a better driver? We think so.

Fresh air is good for your health – no surprises there – but did you know it can also help you be a better and safer driver? Our new world-first air quality technology pushes the envelope in this area, because when we think of our commitment to continually improving car safety, we like delving beyond the obvious and getting into the fine detail of how we can help keep you safe.

Air quality is one of the biggest health worries in urban areas around the world, especially the presence of PM2.5 in the air. These are tiny particles – with diameters around 2.5 micrometres or smaller – emitted directly from construction sites, unpaved roads, fields, smokestacks or fires. Just to give you an idea, an average human hair is 30 times bigger than PM2.5, so they are difficult to see – and filter.


Research has linked high levels of PM2.5 to higher rates of cardiovascular disease and other adverse health effects. The World Health Organisation has a recommended maximum level of PM2.5 in the air. Unfortunately, most urban areas around the world exceed those levels. 


So we think tackling PM2.5 is important. Of course, we already do our bit to try and improve air quality in cities by switching to electrification and reduce emissions in that way. But in our model year 2021 cars, we’ve taken our ongoing efforts to create outstanding interior air quality to the next level.


A breath of fresh air

Here’s how it works: the technology, dubbed Advanced Air Cleaner, cleans out fine particulate matters from the cabin. It uses a synthetic fibre-based filter and a process called pre-ionisation, which means that as much as 95 per cent of all PM2.5 particles in the outside environment are kept out of the cabin. This improves air quality inside the car – and healthy clean air is better for driver concentration than polluted air.


The technology includes a sensor that measures PM2.5 levels inside the cabin, so you can use your centre screen to keep track of your car’s air quality. In China – where PM2.5 measurements and related information services such as mobile apps are well-established – you can also compare the air quality inside the cabin to that outside the car.


Our Advanced Air Cleaner technology will also be paired with our Volvo on Call smartphone app in markets where available, and if you own a Volvo with the technology you can schedule an extra cleaning of the cabin air before you get behind the wheel. Once the cleaning has been done, the Volvo on Call app will tell you what is the new PM2.5 level in the cabin.


The Advanced Air Cleaner is now available on all our models in the 90 and 60 Series.


“With our Advanced Air Cleaner technology, you can rest assured that the air you breathe inside your Volvo is cleaner and healthier,” said Anders Löfvendahl, senior technical expert on cabin air quality at Volvo Cars. “We believe that clean air is good for you, both from a health and from a safety perspective, and we’ll continue to push the envelope in this area.”


Nose for detail

The Advanced Air Cleaner technology is just one part of how we work on creating a healthy environment inside our cars. Our engineers have a long-standing focus on removing emissions from organic substances in the car and minimising the amount of allergy-causing materials in our interiors.


We have strict sourcing requirements for our suppliers, so we can minimise the generation of and emission of odours from parts and materials used inside the cabin. We also work closely with a variety of universities and other institutes on projects related to material use, as well as developing and implementing ever stricter allergy standards for our car interiors.


A special team of odour assessors, internally known as The Noses, tests components individually as well as on a complete car level for odour emissions. Despite technological advances, this team remains critical for the odour control process, because the human nose is much more sensitive than any analytical instrument.