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Goodbye fine dust - for the driver, not the environment

Particulate matter is a major problem for human health. Mercedes is tackling the problem and is advertising its latest model with filters for clean air. But not for the emissions on the outside of the car, but for the comfort of the driver inside.

In times of Corona, air quality is a particularly important issue. The new Mercedes EQS now has a HEPA air filter as part of its special equipment "Energizing Air Control Plus", which until now only Tesla had. It cleans fine particles, nitrogen oxides and pathogens such as viruses and bacteria from the driver's cabin. The extra "No. 6 Mood Linen" also distributes a pleasant scent of fig and linen throughout the vehicle. Perfect comfort.

But the all-electric luxury sedan, like other electric cars, has a problem. With a promised range of 700 kilometres, the EQS has a heavy battery unit that generates large amounts of fine dust via non-exhaust sources. As the tyres, brake pads and road wear, the vehicle produces at least as much particulate matter as an internal combustion engine of comparable size.

This fine dust is released unfiltered into the ambient air, although there are already possible technologies for filter systems, for example on the brakes, to reduce non-exhaust emissions.

In this case, Mercedes has probably only taken care of the driver's comfort, but not the health of fellow human beings and the environment. Incidentally, the flagship Vision EQS model unveiled at the IAA in Frankfurt in 2019 had 1000 LEDs glowing in the radiator grille and taillights made up of 229 individual Mercedes stars. The new model, which will be on the market soon, looks a little less futuristic but has lost none of the comfort of its flagship model.

In their philosophy, the German carmakers are probably trying to tackle the problem of emissions, also in order not to lag behind in international comparison. That is why they are launching more and more electric cars on the market that seem environmentally friendly and sustainable, at least at first glance, and are also tackling the issue of particulate matter in the interior of the vehicles, as in the case of the Mercedes EQS. However, the lack of regulation of non-exhaust emissions to improve air quality for people and the environment prevents the vehicles from being developed in such a way that they actually contribute to reducing air pollution in cities.

Car manufacturers are unlikely to curb particulate emissions from e-cars on their own. The trend towards longer range also brings with it ever heavier vehicles that produce more and more particulate matter. There is therefore an urgent need for regulation of e-cars, as has long been the case for internal combustion vehicles.