Shanghai — Car manufacturers must pay more attention to interior car air quality to compete in Asian markets, especially in China.
That's according to Anna-Maria Krassa, a BMW AG evaporative emissions and indoor air quality engineer, at the recent Emissions and Odour of Plastics workshop held by IMAT Design and Engineering in Shanghai.
“If you ask a European what the air quality index is about, he would not know about it and ask what is it and why do I need it?” she said. But in China, air quality is an important issue.
“For the Asian, especially for the Chinese, market, it is clear we have to raise the interior air quality of our cars if we want to be successful in this market.”
She said that Russia and Asian countries are leading the way in automobile indoor air quality regulations. Currently only Russia, Japan, South Korea, and China have national regulations. BMW has its own standards that they use for the rest of the world.
Next year, changes in Chinese, European and U.S. regulations will tighten restrictions on vehicle indoor air emissions, she added. The information about the upcoming law is new, she said, and so there is lack of clear information. “That is what makes it difficult to have a plan at the moment.”
Currently, BMW tests its cars according to the ISO 12219-1 and HJ/T-400 at its research and development locations in Munich and Shenyang, China. Unlike the popular Asian testing method of placing car components in a bag, BMW prefers chamber testing, as they consider it to be more accurate. “For the chamber method there is a possibility of gradient of the measurement and that gives more evaluation than the bag method,” she explained.
BMW is pushing for a global standard for vehicle indoor air emissions, Krassa said, because a global rule would standardize testing and save time. “For a car manufacturer, it is quite difficult to measure every single car in every way, and you have to do several times to get a good evaluation.”
The Chinese market is an interesting case, she said, because it is unique in that Chinese consumers are more sensitive to odors than consumers in other markets. She noted that there have been complaints about the leather smell in BMW cars. BMW feels it cannot change the odor without any complaints about it from other markets. “We want to satisfy all our customers, not just Chinese customers. We are doing some reports to reduce the leather smell because then we would get complaints from European and American [customers].”
But the company does make special concessions for the market here. Krassa said that from this spring, pm 2.5 filters were included in all its cars in China. “Of course this is a smoke issue, but for us it has a second advantage that there is a big improvement about the odor of the car.”