Honda has announced a new air filter that not only prevents viruses from entering your car, it also destroys ones that get inside.
Kurumaku, which literally means ‘car mask,’ acts like a face mask for your vehicle.
Available for Honda Japan‘s N-Box Kei microcar, it’s fitted on top of the vehicle’s regular filter and catches virus droplets in microscopic spikes, reducing their shape and damaging them in the process.
It uses a zinc phosphate conversion system, the same technology carmakers employ to prevent rusting.
The mask is an environmentally friendly product, according to Honda, with less risk of fostering resistant viruses because it does not use chemicals.
Without specifically mentioning coronavirus, the carmaker said the new Kurumaku filter can remove 99.8 percent of virus droplets within 15 minutes of turning on a car’s air recirculation system, and 99.9 percent after 24 hours.
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Kurumaku, which literally means ‘car mask,’ acts like a face mask for your vehicle, trapping viral particles in microscopic spikes and damaging them in the process.
A Kurumaku filter placed in a Honda N-Box killed 99.8 percent of airborne E.coli molecules in 15 minutes, Jalopnik reported, and 99.9 percent after 24 hours.
It will not remove viruses from hard surfaces like door handles and stereo buttons, according to SlashGear.
One Kurumaku filter lasts about a year or 9,300 miles, depending which comes first.
Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, automakers have touted their powerful air-filtration systems as tools to keep drivers and passengers safe from infection.
A Kurumaku filter attached to the air filter on a Honda N-Box. After 15 minutes of recirculation, the system removed 99.8 percent of airborne E.coli droplets. After 24 hours, it was up to 99.9 percent
For now, the Kurumaku filter is only available in Japan and only for the Honda N-Box Kei, at a cost of about $64. The company is expected to add it to other models in the near future
China carmaker Geely says the air filter on its Icon SUV, launched in February 2020, is comparable to an N95 mask and filters out 95 percent of particles larger than 0.3 microns.
Other filters operate as an antibacterial layer ‘to inactivate and kill the escaped virus’ using the same nanosilver ion sterilization technology found in disinfectants.
But industry expert Werner Bergman told the Society of Automotive Engineers it’s ‘almost impossible’ to have a car interior that’s completely sealed from unfiltered air.
And even the best system would be useless once a door or window was opened.
The Kurutaku filter won’t remove viral droplets on hard surfaces like door handles or radio buttons. And even the best filtration system is stymied when you open the door or roll down the window
For now, the Kurumaku filter is only available in Japan and only for the Honda N-Box Kei, at a cost of about $64.
It’s eventually expected to be made available in other models.
The COVID-19 pandemic has been devastating to the auto industry, as lockdowns have closed factories, clogged supply chains and lowered customer demand.
The number of Hondas sold worldwide dropped from more than 5.3 million in 2019 to less than 4.8 million in 2020, according to Statista.
The company has had to deal with other kind of viruses, as well: In June, Honda suspended work at production facilities all over the world after discovering a computer hackerhad infiltrated the company’s servers.
Factories were taken offline for a full day at plants in the US, Brazil, India, Turkey, Italy, and Japan.
A virus was initially identified on internal servers at Honda’s Tokyo headquarters but further evidence was quickly found indicating it had spread through its network.