When two Swedish companies that focus on their customers’ wellbeing got together in China, no one knew it would be the birth of a brand-new Tier 1 supplier to the automobile industry.
In 2014, Volvo Cars decided to install Blueair’s best-in-class air purifiers in its stand at the Beijing Auto Show so their visitors could enjoy their visit even more. These air purifiers use a pioneering, two-stage technology that combines particle charging technology with mechanical filtration. The technology is exceptionally effective against even the ultra-fine particles that are most damaging to health.
Sharing an interest in the health and wellbeing of their customers, it was natural for Blueair and Volvo to start wondering whether Blueair’s technology could also be used to improve the air in Volvo’s cars. After all, Blueair’s vision is to bring clean air to everyone, everywhere. And Volvo Cars have long been known for a focus on the safety and wellbeing of drivers and passengers.
Given that the air in cars is typically many times more polluted than the air outside, and given that people are spending more and more time in their cars, the need was obvious. And growing. So, Volvo asked Blueair to work on the idea.
Initial results were so promising that in 2016, Blueair founded CabinAir as a start-up company solely dedicated to healthy air for the ride. And Volvo Cars would be the first customer. “It was fantastic that Volvo took the risk – and opportunity,” comments CabinAir CEO & Co-Founder Daniel Hagström.
CabinAir’s unique competence, combined with Blueair’s long experience in the air purification industry and proven technology, translated into a best-in-class solution for the automotive industry. Our fully integrated air purification system removes up to 99% of harmful PM2.5 and ultrafine particles in a single pass, which results in air that is 5-10 times cleaner than with a traditional cabin filter.
And, while traditional systems need to recirculate the air in the car in order to reach acceptable low levels of particulates, our system does not. This has two main benefits.
• The constant flow of fresh air flushes out common in-vehicle particles, as well as gases and chemicals such as formaldehyde, VOCs and odors.
• When air in traditional air purification systems is recirculated, the CO2 levels in the car gradually increase, making car occupants drowsy and increasing the risk of an accident.
Another benefit from our technology is that independent testing shows that our solution reduces the concentration of microbes (bacteria, viruses and mold) by up to 98%*.
With CabinAir’s technology, drivers and passengers can always breathe clean and fresh air – we bring you healthy air for the ride.
To be a supplier to Volvo and other vehicle manufacturers, it would be necessary to meet the auto industry’s requirements for a so-called Tier 1 supplier. These suppliers are trusted to deliver products directly to a vehicle manufacturer. Therefore, the requirements to becoming a Tier 1 supplier are stringent, comprehensive and very difficult to meet, especially for a new, unknown company, which CabinAir was at the time.
“We had to start from scratch, but already from day one we were fully committed to meeting the tough requirements”, recalls Niklas Hallgren, Global Head of R&D. “Then we built, step by step, a small but extremely focused team with engineers, product developers, manufacturing and supply-chain logistics.”
“The role of Tier 1 supplier to the auto industry is a difficult one,” adds Daniel Hagström. “But we did it. And we did it for one of the top, premium vehicle manufacturers. That’s an indication that we are doing things right, both from a corporate and from a technology perspective. We’re super-proud of that.”
Volume manufacturing in Shenzhen, China, began in March 2019. In June that year, the Chinese automotive market was the first market in the world to experience Volvo Cars Advanced Air Cleaning (AAC) developed by CabinAir, as part of its well-known CLEANZONE® system.
Even if the core purification technology is the same in both Blueair’s and CabinAir’s products, the customers are different. There’s little overlap on timelines, marketing, relationships with customers, corporate cultures, product design, certifications, and so on.
Therefore, Blueair and its owner, Unilever, decided to make CabinAir into a completely independent company in January 2019. CabinAir still operates under the Blueair brand through a trademark agreement, and the two companies still work very closely together to bring the best air purification solutions to the market, both for homes, offices and the transportation industry.
After developing a system that can be installed in new vehicles at a car plant, we have taken the next step and developed an air purification system that car workshops will be able to install in existing vehicles. “While working directly with an OEM allows us to further optimize performance by integrating our technology into the whole design of a car’s HVAC system, we don’t want to deny owners of the hundreds of millions of cars already on the road the right to access much healthier air than they are getting right now. That’s why our aftermarket solution Nordzone™ System will be available on the market during 2020”, says Hagström.
This system is based on the same technology we currently deliver to Volvo. Consequently, the Nordzone™ System is also highly efficient. The particle charging device in the Nordzone™ System uses the space directly prior to the filter to charge particles in the air, stopping up to 97% of all harmful PM2.5 and ultrafine particles on single pass from getting into the cabin. It also has the same benefit of preventing CO2 build up and pushing out in-cabin VOCs and odors.
“The Nordzone™ System is the same size as a standard filter, so the workshop can simply replace the current filter with our solution. Immediately, the purification level can be up to ten times better and reach up to 97%, without recirculation,” says Hagström.
We are constantly experiencing the joy of innovation as we challenge conventional thinking and we are dedicated to deliver solutions that contribute to the health and wellbeing of drivers and passengers everywhere. Based in Stockholm we are now an international fast expanding team of passionate and committed employees with factory and R&D in Shenzhen and sales offices in Shanghai and Los Angeles.
We bring you healthy air for the ride. And the journey has only begun!
* After 30 min in 3m3 test chamber, airflow rate of 300 m3/h, test procedure according to GB 21551.3-2010 by Guangzhou Institute of Microbiology