August 12, 2022


Nuts about Car

SC automaker Volvo hopes to make in-car sneezing a thing of the past | Business


In areas like the Southeast region of the United States, where pollen season covers vehicles with a thick yellow dust each spring, Volvo Cars is hoping a new technology will give drivers a little comfort from sneezing and watery eyes — at least while they’re inside their cars.

The automaker, which builds S60 sedans at a $1.2 billion manufacturing site in Ridgeville, is equipping new vehicles with what it calls “cutting-edge air purification” that can remove up to 99.9 percent of grass, tree and weed pollen allergens from incoming air.

“By helping our customers improve the air quality inside their Volvo car, we will help reduce the adverse health effects associated with air pollution, allergens and fine particulates,” said Dr. Maria Bernander, occupant health effects expert at Volvo Cars. “In addition to personal health benefits, studies have shown cleaner air can also help boost concentration, which can help you stay more focused during the drive.”

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A Volvo Cars worker performs an assembly-line quality check at the carmaker’s manufacturing plant near Ridgeville. File/Gavin McIntyre/Staff

A display in the vehicle’s center console will provide drivers with live data showing real-time outdoor pollen and air quality levels, alerting them to when use of an in-car air purification system might be warranted. Sensors also record the amount of particulate matter inside the vehicle compared to the outdoor air.

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Volvo said its Advanced Air Cleaner can also remove more than 97 percent of airborne viruses that try to enter a vehicle’s cabin and up to 95 percent of existing viral levels already inside the vehicle.

Anders Löfvendahl, Volvo’s cabin air quality technical expert, said the technology that’s unique to the carmaker’s vehicles “can increase our competitive advantage by offering a more comfortable and healthier driving experience.”

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The technology is currently available on Volvo’s 60- and 90-model vehicles. The Swedish automaker plans to expand production at its South Carolina plant off Interstate 26 by adding the next-generation successor to the XC90 SUV by the end of this year. The Berkeley County site also will build the Polestar 3 sedan for its high-performance sister brand.

The S60 Recharge, which is also made at the Lowcountry factory, recently was named best luxury plug-in hybrid vehicle by U.S. News and World Report, taking top honors among 82 vehicles in the running.

Volvo announced this month that all of its 2023 models will consist of mild hybrid, hybrid or electric vehicles as the automaker moves toward its goal of producing all battery-powered cars by 2030. Mild hybrid vehicles are powered by internal combustion engines but have an electric motor to give the engine a boost during acceleration.

In addition, the new S60 will feature a redesigned front grille and updated rear bumper inserts. The 2023 models are in production and expected to be available this summer.

Commerce confabs

Scribble, the S.C. Commerce Department‘s ongoing series of internet-based podcasts, blog posts and videos that focus on innovations among South Carolina manufacturers and business leaders, is entering its fourth year with a new group of participants. The latest lineup includes leaders from electric vehicle companies to innovative startups who discuss ideas that have helped transform their businesses.

This year’s participants include: Andrew Lee with biotech firm IMCS in Irmo; Bob Brown with robotic welding company Integrated Systems Inc. in Darlington; Vernita Brown with Natalist, a Charleston-based company that makes pregnancy tests and prenatal vitamins; Mike Finnern of electric bus firm Proterra; Jules Welson and Stace Pierce of beach and camping gear business OME Gear in Charleston; Jeff DiMaio of Tetramer, an advanced materials research group in Clemson; University of South Carolina physics professor Thomas Crawford; and James Townsend of Charleston’s Dopple XR Inc., which provides 3-D and augmented reality services for e-commerce firms.

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“Industries across the board are experiencing significant advances in innovation and change, and it’s critical that our state remains on the cutting edge of these technologies and thought processes,” Harry Lightsey III, the state’s commerce secretary, said of the series.

This year’s season premiers in August and runs through April 2023. In addition, there are online features from 30 past participants representing the startup, academic and corporate sectors. The series website is

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Reach David Wren at 843-937-5550 or on Twitter at @David_Wren_


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