The carmakers making it easier to breathe

18 December 2022


When it comes to cleaner air, some carmakers are going beyond exhaust emissions. Lexus is looking to clean and purify the atmosphere inside its vehicles.

Created by Panasonic, nanoe X is based on water-particle diffusion technology. ‘Invisible to the human eye,’ it can inhibit viruses, bacteria, pollen, mould, and more. Essentially, it serves to suppress potentially harmful and unpleasant particles.

Central to the functionality of nanoe X is the discharge of water molecules, containing microscopic hydroxyl radicals, which react with the atmosphere and work through a naturally occurring process.

Discharged into the vehicle’s internal airflow, the oxidant counters viruses and bacteria, as well as negating bad odours and stopping moisture evaporation, leading to better-hydrated skin and hair.

Introduced in the Lexus ES executive saloon in 2021, the latest generation of nanoe X technology is now available in the new UX, RX and RZ models as part of the Lexus Climate Concierge system.

Improving air quality

The latest tweaks to the technology include a 10-fold increase in the number of emitted hydroxyl radical particles – from 480 billion per second to 4.8 trillion. Laboratory research revealed that over the period of an hour, the upgraded nanoe X technology ‘can inhibit more than 99% of viruses and bacteria,’ the carmaker said.

Lexus sees its air-purification technology as having particular value in heavily polluted areas. It also has a tangible real-world benefit when applied to shared mobility. For vehicles with multiple passengers throughout the day, such as taxis, rental cars or pool cars, the nanoe X system could help reduce the spread of airborne diseases or infections.

COVID-19 and technology

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, vehicle manufacturers developing air-purification technology makes sense.

Even during the earlier phases of the COVID-19 pandemic, it was revealed that new-car buyers in China cited the primary driver of purchase consideration as ′health configuration.’ Respondents to a 2020 Ipsos survey highlighted a desire for air conditioners with germ filters, interiors with antibacterial materials, and more generally, outbreak-area reminders and health-monitoring systems for passengers.

While it was deemed that the overall demand for such technology varied between customers in Asia and Europe, some notable carmakers pursued air purification.

In March 2021, Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) unveiled its application of Panasonic’s nanoe X technology. Laboratory tests revealed the system inhibited viruses and bacteria by as much as 97%. Fast forward to 2022, and the nanoe X air-purification system is equipped to all Land Rover Defender 130 models.

In 2020, Geely developed an intelligent, N95-certified, air-purification system for its Icon SUV. According to the carmaker, the system works in tandem with the air conditioner to isolate and eliminate harmful elements in the cabin’s atmosphere, including bacteria and viruses