Ford has introduced an upgrade to its Police Interceptor Utility vehicles that heats up the interior of the car to fight the spread of COVID-19.

The American car giant teamed up with the Ohio State University to learn what temperature, and for what duration, would lead to a reduction in the amount of virus inside a car.

It was determined that baking the cabin to 56 degrees Celsius for 15 minutes would ‘reduce the viral concentration inside the vehicle by greater than 99 per cent’.

When activated, the SUV’s engine becomes hotter and the climate system turns up the heat and fan settings. The car measures the cabin temperature, and once it hits 56 degrees, it maintains that for 15 minutes.

The hazard warning lights and taillights will flash in a specific pattern to indicate the process is happening, while a different sequence will indicate the procedure has ended.

Stephen Tyler, Ford police brand marketing manager, said: “Law enforcement officers are being dispatched as emergency responders in some cases where ambulances may not be available. 

“During one trip, officers may be transporting a coronavirus patient to a hospital, while another trip may involve an occupant who may be asymptomatic.

“Officers can now use this self-cleaning mode as an extra layer of protection inside the vehicle in areas where manual cleaning is prone to be overlooked.

“This virus is an invisible enemy and we are proud to provide a solution to help the law enforcement community fight it.”

The software upgrade is now available for all 2013-2019 versions of the vehicle, mostly used in America and Canada. 

For 2013-2015 vehicles, Police forces that have large service centres can upgrade vehicles themselves using diagnostics tools, while smaller forces can use the local dealer network. For 2016-2019 models, the software can be automatically integrated by pressing the cruise control buttons in a specific order.

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