Large Chinese cities aren't known for having clean air. Just this week, the Chinese city of Harbin filled with record levels of smog after starting the city's coal-fired heating system, according to CNN. But Li Shufu, the chairman of Geely, Volvo's parent company, says the automaker's astute attention to cabin comfort in areas such as air filtration is a selling point for the Swedish automaker in China, Forbes reports.

Shufu says when he is inside a Volvo, he feels like he's in Northern Europe, but when the door is opened, he feels like he's in Beijing. The chairman made the remarks at the fourth annual Global Auto Forum (GAF) in China (which also happened to be attended by Alan Mulally, CEO of Ford, which was Volvo's owner until 2010), where he emphasized Geely's hands-off approach to managing Volvo, saying, "Geely and Volvo are brothers, not father and son."

While good filtration contributes to cabin comfort, the way we see it, Shufu also is allowing Volvo to play to its most well-known strength: safety. Smog protection via air filtration might not seem like the most important safety feature for a car in the US (unless you live in Los Angeles), but when you consider that Harbin's level of fine particles was up to 30 times higher than the World Health Organization's recommended standard on Tuesday, we'd think twice about that. Fine particles, which are 2.5 micrometers in diameter or less, are considered to be the most harmful to health.

What we're really wondering, however, is when 'smog lights' will become an important selling point in the Chinese market. What good is a filtration device if the driver can't see the road ahead?


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  • 32 Comments
      lazybeans
      • 1 Year Ago
      Someone needs to tell these people that new car smell is not made of flowers and unicorn, it's toxic.
      paulwilson05
      • 1 Year Ago
      next is a HUD for driving in zero-visibility.
        SloopJohnB
        • 1 Year Ago
        @paulwilson05
        already exists. IR vision. Useful in fog and smog. Moreover, cats and FI make exhaust cleaner than intake air. Volvo at one time was looking at a radiator coating that catalyzed pollutants...the radiator exhaust was cleaner than the air going into it from the front of the car!
      DaveMart
      • 1 Year Ago
      Selling breathable air, which happens to have a car wrapped around it! The future has arrived.
      Technoir
      • 1 Year Ago
      China adds 1 coal fired power plant EVERY WEEK. Combined, the U.S., China and India are building 850 coal fired power plants. Maybe one day the smog will be so dense people will drop dead in the street, like in London in 1952 (4000 died within 4 days, 8000 more in the weeks later).
        Bruce Lee
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Technoir
        The funny thing is that even now London's air quality seems to show aftereffects from that era.
        Spec
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Technoir
        I think China's coal plant growth is slowing down. They are running low on coal, they are getting very dependent on imports (mainly from australia), and they can see it is destroying their environment. They have been making moves to renewables and nuclear. As far as I can tell, the recent smogs in China have been worse that the Great Smog of London of 52!
      Patrick May
      • 1 Year Ago
      So they convince people to buy these cars based on the cleaner air in the cabin, and when they have days with awful smog people will get in their cars, start them up, and contribute more to it so they can have their own personal clean air capsule. Seems smart.
      paulwilson05
      • 1 Year Ago
      Are those particles really 2.5 microns in size? That sounds huge. That's almost as big as a small grain of sand. How does that even float?
        Brent Jatko
        • 1 Year Ago
        @paulwilson05
        Fine sand is .023 mm, far larger than a micrometre (called a micron in the USA) (Wikipedia) 2.5 microns is .0025 millimeters. Hope this helps.
      brotherkenny4
      • 1 Year Ago
      This is a slippery slope ( I love that I can use an old FOX technique to slant the conversation, albeit in a somewhat sarcastic fashion). If the Chinese people get an experience with clean air, won't that only point out how bad the real air is? I mean, if they feel the clean air in a Volvo, and then step out to pollution like they have, how can they deny the level of degradation they are required to live in for the wealth of others. Wouldn't it be better if they were to just get used to a certain level of pollution and accept it say like the people of Gary, Indiana do? Heck, if they get a taste of clean air, they may like it and theoretically (although not likely in China) demand a healthier world? Why, that would be terrible. A transfer of the nanny state to China. Anyway, Volvo may be setting a precedence that could affect the profitability of many fuel and vehicle vendors. Wouldn't it be better to just scare the population with fear or shame them into believing the degraded level of their existence is due to their personal failures or sins. I know, we'll have to religion up the Chinese if we're going to get them to feel the shame, but it could happen.
        Neez
        • 1 Year Ago
        @brotherkenny4
        You've been watching too much CNN and their left biased reporting garbage. They are far left, fox is far right. You can only be balanced by watching both, which is what i do. Slippery slope arguement doesn't apply here, and more of a tactic used by progressives. Progressives have trouble changing America to something they want, so they make foot-in-the-door policies to change America one peice at a time. Once they get their foot in the door with something, then a slippery slope begins until they get to their ultimate goal. Conservatives simply try to keep things the way they are, and actually believe in personal responsibility. Keep in mind it's the Obama administration pushing for cleaner air and green initiatives(paid for by natural gas drillers) and putting coal workers out on the street. And no, i'm not a republican nor a democrat, i'm someone who likes to educate and think for myself. That's the way i see both parties. China is the way it is not due to lack of regulation, but due to lack of people following regulations and no one enforcing regulations. China is a haven for people that don't seem to care about cutting corners and pirating everything, even though it's illegal.
      James John
      • 1 Year Ago
      So is the plan to have them live in their car forever? This is so pathetically stupid. Oh wait, Volvo is owned by Geely of China now. Of course.
      GR
      • 1 Year Ago
      Call me an enviro-hippie all you want, but I'm wondering when people will start realizing that environmental problems don't stop at political borders. Nature, animals, and ecosystems don't abide by these artificial constructs. The Earth is ONE huge ecosystem that integrates all parts. The air pollution and emissions in China will have an effect on global warming which will effect the ice caps in the North Pole. The deforestation of the Amazon will have an effect on the climate in Africa and elsewhere. Borders and nations are artificial human constructs that really don't help us resolve these problems together. While I'm glad I don't live in China and don't have to breathe that crap, I'm very worried about the long term effect that their air pollution will have at the global level. I really think that if we are to solve these problems, we have to look to nature at how an ecosystem was intended. Much like birds and whales migrate thousands of miles across continents, void of any notion of borders or territories, maybe we should deconstruct this illusion that environmental problems end at one's political border and don't effect people living somewhere else. It doesn't work that way. Borders don't actually exist in nature or an ecosystem. Environmental problems effect us all and I'm wondering if it will be too late by the time we all realize this. Installing advanced air filters for the cabin of a car is like taking a pain killer for a gunshot wound to your lung. It's not solving the problem one bit, just making it a tiny bit more comfortable to bare.
      paulwilson05
      • 1 Year Ago
      Are the emissions standards on vehicles lower in China than in the US? Are automakers voluntarily fitting world-class emissions control devices for Chinese market cars?
        GR
        • 1 Year Ago
        @paulwilson05
        It's everything, but cars aren't the main factor. It's more coal power plants and factories, but China's atrocious traffic and growing number of cars are contributing to the problem. EVs will help the situation, but only part of it.
        Brent Jatko
        • 1 Year Ago
        @paulwilson05
        I may be wrong, but I think the pollution comes mainly from "off highway" sources like power plants and steel mills.
          paulwesterberg
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Brent Jatko
          Chinese engines have poor or no pollution controls and run terribly which emits much more pollution than the average vehicle in America/Europe where emissions are regulated.
          Bruce Lee
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Brent Jatko
          paul, most cars sold in China are the same cars sold elsewhere...the most popular models tend to be from manufacturers like VW/Buick/Chevy/Toyota/etc. so they have the same engines. It's just that there's too many cars crammed into each city and too many factories. Then there's also the lousy geography in northeast china that traps the air there.
      M5_4_life
      • 1 Year Ago
      "Geely and Volvo are brothers, not father and son." Ouch, that gotta hurt! Former "sons" of Ford, Jaguar, Land Rover and now Volvo are all faring a lot better than when they were Ford's test mules.
        zzzzzz
        • 1 Year Ago
        @M5_4_life
        Nobody really believes that Geely and Volvo are brothers. Geely has the final say in everything, I'm sure, despite the image they would like to portray.
      marv.shocker
      • 1 Year Ago
      LOL
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