The software temporarily raises the interior temperature of Police Interceptor Utility vehicles beyond 133 degrees for 15 minutes. This helps reduce the viral concentration inside the vehicle by greater than 99%, according to Ford.
Police Interceptor Utility vehicles are produced at Ford's Chicago assembly plant.
Ford worked with The Ohio State University to determine the temperature range and time needed to help reduce the virus' spread; additionally, Ford conducted software operational trials with vehicles owned by the New York City Police Department, Los Angeles Police Department and others.
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The software is available for all 2013-19 Police Interceptor Utility customers in the United States, Canada and other countries around the world immediately.
"We looked at what's in our arsenal and how we could step up to help. In this case, we've turned the vehicle's powertrain and heat control systems into a virus neutralizer," said Hau Thai-Tang, Ford's chief product development and purchasing officer.
Once activated, the vehicle's powertrain and climate control systems work together automatically to elevate interior cabin temperatures. The software warms up the engine to an elevated level, and then turns both the heat and fan settings on high. Interior temperatures are automatically monitored by the software to know when the entire cabin hits the optimal level and that temperature is then maintained for at least 15 minutes.
Law enforcement will have multiple ways to monitor progress. Hazard lights and tail lights will flash when the process has begun, and they will change at the end to signal completion. A cool-down process has also been developed to help bring the temperature down from its highest points.
When used in conjunction with sanitization guidelines approved by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, flooding the cabin with elevated air temperature can help reach areas that may be missed by manual disinfecting procedures, Ford said.
Ford will continue working on ways to bring the software capability to more police vehicles.