Excerpted from Ford Media Center

Ford Motor Company has found a way to help Police Officers fight COVID-19 using software to bake the vehicle’s interior until the virus is inactivated.

The new heated software enhancement is being piloted and available immediately in 2013-19 Police Interceptor Utility vehicles.

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company                                                                          Ford Motor Company has developed heat software to inactivate coronavirus in Police Interceptor Utility vehicles.

“Vehicles from the 2013 to 2019 model years make up the majority of Police Interceptor Utility vehicles currently in use by first responders,” said Stephen Tyler, Ford police brand marketing manager. “Delivering this new capability to these vehicles first allows us to help as many officers as possible, as quickly as possible.”

Ford engineers initiated a project to use heat to decontaminate vehicles in late March, working with researchers at The Ohio State University to determine the temperature and amount of time necessary to inactivate COVID-19.

“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 percent on interior surfaces and materials used inside Police Interceptor Utility vehicles,” said Jeff Jahnes and Jesse Kwiek, laboratory supervisors at The Ohio State University department of microbiology.

Heat can seep into crevices and areas that are hard to reach. The software is designed to supplement recommended cleaning methods as an extra layer of protection inside the vehicle where manual cleaning may be overlooked.

“Law enforcement officers are being dispatched as emergency responders in some cases where ambulances may not be available,” Tyler said. “During one trip, officers may be transporting a coronavirus patient to a hospital, while another trip may involve an occupant who may be asymptomatic.”

The smart vehicle technology works by elevating passenger compartment temperatures using the vehicle’s powertrain and climate control system while occupants are outside the vehicle. Once activated, officers can remove the key so the vehicle cannot be moved during the process, which ends after the software cools the vehicle down from its highest temperatures. If the heat process needs to be stopped early, officers can simply press on the gas pedal or brake pedal.

The software may be installed at some larger police departments, which have their own service centers. Other departments should contact local dealers about installation.

Ford is working to bring this software to additional Ford police vehicles.