Law enforcement officers across the country have expressed their concerns about coronavirus, and Ford announced Wednesday it may have a solution. After working with the New York Police, Los Angeles Police and Michigan State Police departments and a team from Ohio State University, the automaker developed a software program to heat the interior to “reduce the footprint” of the COVID-19 virus.
The software effectively bakes the Police Interceptor’s interior to 133 degrees — hotter than Death Valley — for 15 minutes to disinfect all the touch points inside the vehicle. It works by running the engine at a higher idle than the car’s own software would normally allow, then setting both the heat and fan settings to high. An internal temperature sensor will then monitor and hold the interior level at 133 degrees until the program has completed. After it’s done, the hazard and taillights will flash and the car will initiate a cool-down process before the officers get in the vehicle.
The Ohio State laboratory that worked with Ford concluded that these temperatures are necessary to tackle the virus. “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 [the police vehicles].”
For 2013 – 2015 Police Interceptor Utility models, law enforcement officers can start the cleaning through an external tool that connects to the onboard OBDII diagnostics port. For 2016 – 2019, it can be done through pressing the cruise control buttons in a certain sequence once the software update is installed. Ford says large departments with their own service centers can use their own tools to install the software, while other fleets can work with Ford dealers.