There is not one, but two cars that are the joint best cars to buy if you suffer from allergies. These are both the Model X and Model S, which are manufactured by Tesla. The reason why both of these cars are a lot better for allergy sufferers is that they both have HEPA filters installed. The HEPA filters in these cars are roughly about 10 times the size of a standard filter used in an internal combustion engine car. Tesla has stated that the filters are “100 times more effective than premium filters in other automotive filters, removing at least 99.97% of fine particulate matter and gaseous pollutants, as well as bacteria, viruses, pollen, and mold spores.” Whilst commenting on the other features of the air filter system it was also mentioned that “Model S & X also have an acid gas filter, an alkaline gas filter & a carbon monoxide detector that auto switches the car to re-circulation mode. We should probably tell people about this more.”
A test on the filter was carried out by Tesla in which they created an environment where the Model X was placed inside a bubble with highly polluted air. As quoted by Tesla “A Model X was placed in a large bubble contaminated with extreme levels of pollution (1,000 µg/m3 of PM2.5 vs. the EPA’s “good” air quality index limit of 12 µg/m3).” They then closed all the doors and activated bioweapon defense mode. Within 2 minutes the air inside the Model X had been scrubbed and the air outside the vehicle was getting cleaner in the following minutes. Meaning the HEPA filter was cleaning the air around the outside of the vehicle too. Just to put the amount of pollution into context, Beijing has average annual levels of 53 µg/m3 of PM2.5. Beijing is currently one of the cities with the highest amount of particulate matter in the world. If you would like to read more about the test in detail I have provided a link to the test here.
Which allergies can be protected against by using these filters? Asthma, pollen allergies, mold allergies, dust allergies and also bacteria. The great news is that this could not only help reduce the symptoms for people who suffer from allergies, but also for people who suffer from asthma attacks. Research has shown that air pollution can worsen asthma symptoms, so having a car with a strong filter could be a preventative way to protect yourself.
HEPA air filtration also protects against wildfires, it filters out harmful air created by fires that would otherwise seep into the interior of the car. California has suffered from lots of wildfires within the last few years and this could be a more common occurrence not just for California but for other parts of the world. Weather is becoming more unpredictable due to climate change and some places are getting drier each year, whilst also reaching record temperatures. This type of weather behavior more places prone to wildfires.
The good news for some owners is that they can have the best air filter retro-fitted to their existing car. Tesla has said that Model S which was built from 2016 (with the new front fascia) can be upgraded to the best filter at a price of $500.
What is a HEPA filter?
A HEPA filter is a filter that is used for medical and Industrial grade level as it can filter our very small particulates that will pass through other filter systems. HEPA stands for High-Efficiency Particulate Air. A HEPA filter is essentially a mesh of small fibers that traps small particulates in its mesh. There are folds in the filter a little bit like a pleated skirt that allows for the longevity of the filter to improve but also for an increase in surface area.
What is bioweapon defense mode?
Bioweapon defense mode is a setting within the Tesla Model X & Model S that allows the filters to be used at maximum capacity and remove particulates from the air as quick as possible. This is to be used when you are worried about high pollution levels, wildfires and days where the possibility of allergic reaction is high. It’s probably obvious, but having the windows up will help to improve the quality of the air inside the vehicle, as there will not be any contaminants from outside entering the vehicle.
Biodefense weapon mode sounds a bit overkill and many have stated that it was an initial marketing ploy. But after releasing the results from the testing to the public, Tesla stated “Bioweapon Defense Mode is not a marketing statement. You can literally survive a military-grade bio attack by sitting in your car.”
Whilst bioweapon defense mode sounds completely over the top to me, as a consumer, I would prefer to have the best product I can get. How many people buy phone cases now which are military-grade materials, in reality, you probably don’t need your phone case to be military-grade. But, some people prefer to have something that is overkill rather than not enough for their needs.
What is PM2.5?
PM2.5 stands for particulate matter that measures less than 2.5 micrometers. Just to give you an idea of how small 2.5 micrometers is, it is more than 25 times smaller than the width of a human hair. PM2.5 is an emission that comes from several sources including gasoline (both petrol & diesel) cars. Breathing in particulate matter can create adverse health impacts. Many specialists have mentioned that when PM2.5 has been absorbed into the bloodstream it would not be possible for the body to remove them. Some of the more serious areas PM2.5 can effect are the lungs, immune system, heart, and brain, this will be more dangerous for children. For children, if PM2.5 damages brain cells it can impair cognitive development and ability to learn if it accumulates it can result in neurodegenerative diseases in later life.
2nd best car for allergy sufferers?
You might ask why I have included the 2nd best car for allergy sufferers? Well, that’s because of the affordability of the 2nd option, which is a Tesla Model 3. The Model 3, is too small to have the HEPA filter that is installed in the Model X & Model S. Since the Model 3 had to have a smaller filter designed, it is not as efficient as the other two cars, but it is probably the second-best on the market. The good news is that the Model 3 is a more affordable price when compared to the Model X and Model S, it has a starting price of $35,000.
Elon Musk the CEO of Tesla claimed that the Model 3’s air filter should be “second best in the world” after the one in Model S and Model X. Musk has recommended how to get the best air quality in the Model 3. “Set airflow to recirculating mode and manually raise blower speed to 5 in Model 3 for best air quality. Air filters are smaller than Model S/X, so clean air is achieved by circulating through filter several times.”
When to replace a Tesla cabin air filter?
From reading through various articles it seems that the filters are generally, been replaced annually for the Model X & Model S. With Tesla’s you should be provided a maintenance schedule when you buy the car. This will enable you to see in advance what needs to be changed and approximately when for standard maintenance parts.
EV Archive’s Take:
As a person who suffers from hay-fever and has an allergic reaction to pollen, I think that the use of these filters and bioweapon defense mode is great. The other great thing is, anybody who doesn’t want to breathe in pollution whilst driving their car benefits. So not only are you not producing any pollution from your electric car whilst driving, you are protecting yourself from pollution created by ICE cars on the road.