The objective is for the air inside the cabin to be cleaner than the air outside of it with respect to the air drawn into the cabin as well as the emissions from the materials in the cabin. What is often referred to as the “new car smell” is actually low levels of emissions from materials such as PVC plastics and certain metals. The levels are so low that they do not present a danger, but when the car becomes warm, concentrations may occur that irritate hypersensitive people. These substances are quickly vented out of the cabin but Volvo Cars’ objective is to avoid these odors completely.
“We are trying to minimize all odors since strong smells can trigger asthma,” said Andreas Andersson, who is in charge of clean cabins at VCC.
Work with the interior environment can be divided into two main areas: air quality and contact allergies. To ensure that the air entering the cabin is as clean as possible, Volvo Cars has developed two systems: IAQS (Interior Air Quality System ) and CZIP (Clean Zone Interior Package). IAQS monitors the quality of the incoming air and automatically closes the air vents if the levels of harmful substances become too high. A multi-filter removes particulates and pollen but also uses a layer of active charcoal to remove odors and ground-level ozone.
The air in a Volvo car fitted with IAQS should always be below WHO’s limits for urban environments. CZIP ensures that the air in the car is automatically vented out within one minute from the time the car is unlocked with the remote control. This system is recommended by the Swedish Asthma and Allergy Association.
In order to avoid emissions from materials in the cabin, a careful selection of materials is made at an early stage. Furthermore, tests are conducted in which interior components are heated in ovens in order to measure the effect on air quality.
In the work to counteract contact allergies, the amount of nickel released from metallic surfaces is minimized and a natural plant extract is used instead of chrome for tanning leather. All textiles and leather in Volvo’s cars meet the requirements in the Oeko-Tex Standard 100, an international institute that monitors harmful substances in textiles.