Ford’s police SUVs will heat up to 133 degrees to burn the germs away

By Peter Valdes-Dapena, CNN Business

(CNN) The ongoing spread of coronavirus has made disinfecting police vehicles a major issue. After the New York City Police Department asked for a better way tosanitize its vehicles, Ford created software that will burn the germs out of the police department’s SUVs, the company announced Wednesday.

With the new software, the Ford (F) Police Utility — a version of the Ford Explorer SUV — can use its engine along with the cabin ventilation system to raise interior temperatures to 133 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 minutes. That’s hot enough and long enough to kill more than 99% of disease causing germs in the vehicle, including the coronavirus, according to Ford.

In newer versions of the Police Utility, officers can initiate the process with a special series of presses on the vehicles’ cruise control buttons. In older models of the Police Utility, model years 2013 through 2015, the process can be started by a technician using a device plugged into the SUV’s electronic diagnostics port.

“You certainly don’t want it to be something that gets activated accidentally so it is a complicated enough cycle that you’d have to be paying attention to what you’re doing to, to get it to start,” said Bill Gubing, Ford’s director of passenger vehicles and SUVs.

Once the system is activated, the officer or technician then leaves the vehicle. The doors are locked automatically as the engine runs at an unusually high idle speed of around 2,000 RPM. That heats the engine coolant, which is then used to heat air that’s pumped into the cabin, raising the cabin temperature for 15 minutes.