Ford ups the heat in Police Interceptor vehicles

Daniel Fowler
May 31, 2020

Ford will make the software available for all its Police Interceptor SUVs in the United States and Canada.

Ford has a longstanding relationship with law enforcement as a supplier of vehicles. They are exposed to the virus and are in dire need of protective measures.

"This software solution enables vehicles to elevate passenger compartment temperatures beyond 133 degrees Fahrenheit, hotter than Death Valley on its hottest day, for 15 minutes - long enough to help disinfect vehicle touchpoints", a press release says.

Once the cycle is complete, the Ford automatically enters a cool down mode, and flashes its lights to let police know when it is entering each cycle and when the vehicles are safe to enter.

The superheating system acts as a supplement to existing cleaning procedures and offers the advantage of disinfecting areas that are hard to reach inside vehicles.

"In this case, we've turned the vehicle's powertrain and heat control systems into a virus neutraliser".

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When activated, the software purposely increases the engine temperature and raises the climate control and fan settings to their maximum settings to ensure the entire cabin has an ambient temperature of 56C or above before a subsequent cooldown protocol is activated at the end of the 15 minutes.

The American auto giant teamed up with The Ohio State University to learn what temperature, and for what duration, would lead to a reduction in the amount of virus inside a vehicle. The auto measures the cabin temperature, and once it hits 56 degrees, it maintains that for 15 minutes.

"Our studies with Ford Motor Company indicate that exposing coronaviruses to temperatures of 56 degrees Celsius, or 132.8 degrees Fahrenheit, for 15 minutes reduces the viral concentration by greater than 99 per cent on interior surfaces and materials used inside Police Interceptor Utility vehicles", Jeff Jahnes and Jesse Kwiek, microbiology laboratory supervisors at Ohio State, said in a statement.

It is also looking to develop the software for its other law enforcement vehicles but is not now planning to offer it on any consumer models. When the tech is activated, the vehicle will flash its hazard lights to warn that it's in operation, changing the flashing pattern to indicate when the baking process has been completed. "This virus is an invisible enemy and we are proud to provide a solution to help the law enforcement community fight it".

Ford began working on the project in March and has since conducted trials with vehicles owned by the New York City Police Department, the Los Angeles Police Department and the Michigan State Police - among others.

For 2013-2015 vehicles, Police forces that have large service centres can upgrade vehicles themselves using diagnostics tools, while smaller forces can use the local dealer network.

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