Car makers in China are tapping into well being considerations by launching autos with anti-virus options.
New fashions purpose to supply the identical stage of safety contained in the cabin as carrying a face masks.
Some of the nation’s largest carmakers have launched new cars with such options together with Geely, which additionally makes London black cabs.
China noticed automotive gross sales plummet in the primary quarter of the yr amid a nationwide coronavirus lockdown.
Geely was the primary model to launch anti-virus options, constructing on earlier work it was doing to enchantment to motorists frightened about air air pollution in huge cities.
Its “Healthy Car Project” goals to cease tiny particles getting into the automotive, doubtlessly defending drivers and passengers from dangerous substances.
Geely can also be creating anti-microbial supplies to maintain its automotive controls and door handles freed from micro organism and viruses.
“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,” stated 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.”
However, Shaun Rein, managing director at the China Market Research Group, disagrees: “Companies are attempting to make the most of fears of Covid-19 to promote services to shoppers and to have the ability to cost a premium.”
In 2015, Tesla sold cars with anti-pollution filtration systems that were very popular in China. Its “Bioweapon Defense Mode” was aimed at people worried about air pollution in cities.
“Auto makers are actually attempting to place their cars as secure in opposition to viruses too. I’m no physician or scientist, however I’d warn shoppers to be cautious of any firm saying their merchandise scale back virus transmissions, particularly Covid-19 ones,” Mr Rein stated.
Earlier this month paint firm Nippon stated it had developed an antivirus coating to guard folks from selecting up infections from surfaces, though it did not particularly identify the coronavirus.
The Japanese agency stated its new VirusGuard paint is designed for use in hospitals and donated some to 4 hospitals in Wuhan, the epicentre of the virus outbreak.
It comes as Chinese carmakers noticed gross sales slumped greater than 80% in February, the most important decline in the previous 20 years. While March automotive gross sales noticed a slight restoration, they nonetheless dropped by 43% in comparison with the identical month final yr.
April’s determine may see continued enchancment as folks return to work however stay involved about taking public transport.
“With physical distancing and home isolations already ingrained in our minds, it is understandable that people will err on the side of caution and will now prefer to travel in their own car instead of public or shared transportation. This will drive demand for cars,” stated Gianfranco Casati, chief govt for Accenture progress markets.
The Chinese authorities has additionally been serving to to spice up automotive gross sales reminiscent of extending rebates for electrical autos and for buying and selling in older cars with excessive emissions.
“Our analysis suggests it would take about three years for the car sales to bounce back to pre-covid-19 levels,” added Mr Vaidya.