Looking into the future

The importance of the cabin air filter in the mobility of tomorrow

Cabin air filters are already ensuring optimal air inside cars. They protect against fine dust, pollen, bacteria and harmful pollutants in the air. In this interview, Dr. Jörg Sievert, member of the executive management at Freudenberg Filtration Technologies, explains why cabin air filters will continue to grow in importance.

Dr. Sievert, new drive technologies will continue to experience growth in the coming years. What are the driving forces behind this development?

"Today we can see that the combustion engine will eventually be replaced by the new technologies. New players are entering the market with innovative concepts and competing with the established manufacturers. New regulations and laws are also changing the industry. In China, for example, the state massively subsidizes the purchase of electric cars, while in the EU a ban on pure combustion engine vehicles as of the year 2030 is being discussed. At the same time, society is demanding more consistent measures to combat the causes of smog. All of this points to a rapid establishment of new drive technologies."

Hybrid, battery or fuel cell – which technology will win out in the end?

"That is still very hard to say at this time. We expect that it will not be a single solution. Rather, we think that there will be a coexistence of drive technologies, with each showing benefits in specific applications. In the future, electric drives will probably prevail primarily within cities and over short stretches. For longer trips, we tend to believe in the strengths of fuel cells and hybrid vehicle systems."

How will the topic of air quality develop in the coming decades?

"Although the drives will become increasingly clean in the future, air pollution remains an issue in large cities and population areas in particular. Fine dust from tires and brakes as well as domestic and industrial incineration processes will continue to pollute the air, creating a health hazard."

And this means that cabin air filters will remain an important part of future cars?

"Not only for this reason. In addition to fine dust, cabin air filters offer reliable protection from pollen, allergens, bacteria and viruses. We see that the topic of health and comfort is gaining in importance, especially in the area of “new mobility”. The manufacturers are increasingly aware that they can differentiate themselves from the competition with especially good air quality. As a manufacturer of filter solutions, the space that has recently been freed up in future models with new airflow possibilities offers tremendous opportunities."

Even if the outside air is improved over the long term by electric cars and renewable energies?

"Cabin air filters protect passengers not only from the outside air that enters but also from many sources of air contamination found inside the vehicle. Alongside skin flakes and germs that originate from people, solvents and other volatile substances enter the air from the installed materials. If the air is in circulation mode, the air quality can worsen quickly without effective filtration."

What is Freudenberg Filtration Technologies doing to address these developments?

"We are currently working on a series of innovations that increase air quality and make better air management possible – regardless of the drive technology. Specifically, these are solutions with larger filter areas, more powerful nonwoven materials or activated carbon. The latter two offer highly efficient protection from gaseous contaminants and pollutants such as nitrous dioxide, ammonia and hydrocarbons. Another field of development is multi-stage filter systems. Future innovations will also encompass solutions for airflow and air conditioning. Our goal of the future is to further optimize the energy consumption and arrestance performance of our filters – for the best possible driving experience."