The CabinAir story: When values connect

When two Swedish companies that focus on their customers’ well-being 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 well-being 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 well-being of drivers and passengers.

Obvious need, promising results

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.

10 times more effective than standard filters

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 five times more harmful PM2.5 and ultrafine particles as a best-in-class air filter and up to 10 times more than a standard filter.

And, while traditional systems need to recirculate the air in the car in order to reach acceptable low levels of particulates, our system achieves these levels in a single pass – without using recirculation mode. 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 and airborne virus levels in the car gradually increase, making car occupants drowsy and increasing the risks of accidents and illness.

With CabinAir’s technology, drivers and passengers can always breathe clean and fresh air – we bring you healthy air for the ride.

Tough manufacturing standards

To be a supplier to Volvo and other vehicle manufacturers, it was 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. The requirements fo 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 starting from day one, we were fully committed to meeting the tough requirements”, recalls Daniel  Hagström, CabinAir CEO and Co-founder. “Then we built, step by step, a small but extremely focused team of engineers, product developers, manufacturing and supply-chain logistics.”

“The role of a Tier 1 supplier to the auto industry is a difficult one,” adds CEO 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 Cleaner (AAC) developed by CabinAir, as part of its well-known CLEANZONE® system.

CabinAir becomes independent

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.

So, 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 for homes, offices and the transportation industry.

The ride has only started

After developing a system that can be factory-installed in new vehicles, we took a further 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 access to much healthier air than they are getting right now. That’s why our aftermarket solution, the Nordzone™ System, has been launched,” says Hagström.

This system is based on the same technology we currently deliver to Volvo and is also highly effective. The particle charging device in the Nordzone™ System uses the space directly ahead of the filter to charge particles in the air. This stops up to 10 times more harmful PM2.5 and ultra-fine particles from getting into the cabin, compared to standard filters. Like our OEM solution, the Nordzone™ System also prevents CO2 and airborne virus build-up and flushes out in-cabin VOCs and odors.

“The Nordzone™ System comes in the same sizes as standard filters, so the workshop can simply replace the current filter with our solution and add a connection to the fuse box. This immediately makes the purification level up to ten times better than before – without recirculation,” says Hagström.

We are constantly experiencing the joy of innovation as we challenge conventional thinking and we are dedicated to delivering solutions that contribute to the health and well-being 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