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Putting the Tesla HEPA Filter and Bioweapon Defense Mode to the Test (teslamotors.com)
260 points by tremguy on May 3, 2016 | hide | past | web | favorite | 145 comments

I think they are not testing with small enough particles. In the article, they test with PM 2.5 particles which would be around 2.5 micro meters. However, if you look at the table on page 11 of


Potential bio weapons such as smallpox, anthrax, influenza and the hemorrhagic viruses are far smaller than 2.5 microns.

Also, there are probably issues with the sensitivity of the detection equipment. If you look at the table on page 8 of


And at the table at


You will see that some of the biological agents can cause infection with as few as 10 particles. I doubt that the Tesla equipment could detect a concentration of 10 particles of these sizes.

This article is basically the biological equivalent of the I can't break my own crypto article.

>Bioweapon Defense Mode is not a marketing statement, it is real.

is false. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, and the evidence of Bioweapons Defense Mode working is entirely lacking.

I also haven't thought of a case in which it matters to protect the interior of the car. I can't live in that car for more than a couple days without resupply (assuming I'm driving around with several cases of water which would be more than a little paranoid), so at some point I have to expose myself to the pathogens present on the outside of the vehicle.

In a couple of days, you could drive 3000 km away from the bioweapon attack, if you don't run out of battery. Even on a single charge, the Tesla's range is 370 km. Typically 1 km is more than enough to escape a bioweapon plume.

In the event of a large scale bioweapon attack, every HazMat team within the range of a Tesla's battery will be busy dealing with the original incident. How do you plan to exit a contaminated car?

Well, you could drive around with water and a haz-mat suit in the car. Put the suit on, walk from the car to a decontamination shower. Or drive your car into a purpose built car-wash (I'm not sure it'd have to be purpose built, even. There are a number of chemicals and temperature ranges that are not so good for a human in a haz-mat suit that'd work well on a sealed car).

At any rate, I suspect that if you're the kind of paranoid elite that worries about escaping a bioweapon attack in your Tesla, you'll have your own converted nuclear silo to use as a safe-house. Presumably with suitable decontamination showers (for vehicles and people) at the entry points.

Before the hazmat teams arrive! What, are you going to wait around in the danger zone and keep breathing spores? I'll adopt your kids if they're good at scrubbing floors and cooking.

You're the guy in the epidemic movies that breaks quarantine and kills another million people by sneaking the pathogen out of the hot zone.

Man I hate that guy.

If you breathed spores you're already infected. Your car can't help. And the spores on the outside get spread, plus the ones in your filter kill your automechanic and that starts the second wave.

Epidemic-causing pathogens like plague are nearly useless as bioweapons: they're more likely to kill the attacker (or their friends, family, or entire country) than the people they're trying to attack. Actual bioweapons are almost invariably things like anthrax, brucellosis, and botulinum, where person-to-person spread is rare or impossible, and which you're very likely to survive if you can keep your dose down and get treatment.

You shouldn't be getting your information about the world from movies — that can get you killed — and you especially shouldn't be criticizing people who know more than you on the basis of movie plots.

Yes, and your car which has been in an anthrax spore cloud is safe to leave a quarantine area?

My movie analogy doesn't change the fact that you're inciting other people to break quarantine based upon a laughably incorrect assertion that somehow an air filter makes you and your vehicle safe for other people. Talk about a criminally dangerous sense of entitlement.

It's not the arrival of the HazMat team that makes the car unsafe to exit... It is the contamination present on the outside of the car. You are bringing the 'danger zone' with you (and exposing countless other people who would not have otherwise been exposed as you drive around)

You aren't IN the danger zone. You ARE the danger zone!

I prefer to be on the highway [away from] the danger zone!

In real life, it will keep out smog and pollen. People with asthma and hay fever will love it.

I agree completely, but that's explicitly not what Musk is saying.

lots of people keep a pack of bottled water in the car. if not for paranoid reasons, then for general convenience.

Sure, but to live in the car long enough for water to not be the limiting factor, it'd take a couple cases I'd think.

Bioweapon Defense Mode is not a marketing statement, it is real.

Their filter does a good job cleaning particles out of the cabin air. Good on them.

Nevertheless, calling it "Bioweapon Defense Mode" is clearly a prize bit of marketing. A system designed to protect against an external bioagent wouldn't run huge amounts of outside air through the filter. That would just load the filter more quickly, impacting its performance (for chemical agents) and/or its energy requirement (for particles). Instead, you would cut the outside air intake as much as you could get away with, in order to buy the occupants time to drive clear of the plume.

Since they claim that the car is responsible for the decrease in the particle concentration in the test chamber, they must be running a pretty high flow of ambient air through the system. Of course, the ambient concentration would decrease even without the car's filter, due to particle deposition, and possibly due to losses in the sampling instrument. But then you only report those other loss rates if you're interested in science, rather than in marketing.

I disagree, and I can tell you from first hand experience that this is how a tank NBC protection system works - The crew cabin is pressurized with high flow of filtered air.


[Edit - adding this] I can also say, that this creates a very uncomfortable sensation in your ears while the cabin is being over-pressurized (about 2 minutes)

Yes but it's the positive pressure that's important, not the high flow rate. You may need a high flow rate to maintain whatever pressure you're aiming for but the thing that's keeping out any contaminants is the fact that every tiny leak is only going to have air going from the inside to the outside other than the filter itself. If you've got a big room with only one tightly sealed door, you don't need a lot of flow to keep out any contaminants.

Thing is you can't maintain positive pressure in a battletank without high flow rate. Tanks are not fully sealed.

Are they not? Many tanks can traverse rivers driving on bottom with special attachment to the main hatch. Leopard 2 does that.

As this sounded intriguing, here's a video I've found of this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C26rJiOnKLk.

It appears the tank commander needs to guide the driver on directions, though...

It also appears that the tank is not waterproof, as you can see quite substantial leaking at around 30 seconds in.

Correct. The commentary says it's equipped with 2 water pumps to remove whatever leaks through.

I guess that's German engineering for less-than-perfect road and maintenance conditions. I like the redundancy too!

Learn something everyday, quite surprising that solution with pumps was even considered and that it actually safe for crew and tank internal systems.

That's the most practical solution. A tank is not a space capsule, sealing a multi-ton rotating turret is unrealistic.

I think the idea is though that the car air is already compromised. e.g. they have opened the doors to get into the car, then closed the doors and enabled the BDM.

It needs to filter the air from outside and get it into the car to quickly displace the air already inside the vehicle that is contaminated.

At the point where the air is clean though it would be a good idea to make the car it's own little safe haven and allow the occupants to drive to safety (hell it could even drive itself to safety if it can sense when the air is safe again outside)

It needs to filter the air from outside and get it into the car to quickly displace the air already inside the vehicle that is contaminated.

In exactly the same way that recirculating air from inside the vehicle is easier on your air-conditioner, recirculating interior air is easier on the filter.

With the A/C, you want some minimum outside air to get rid of CO2 and whatever other effluents the passengers and materials in the car are generating. But if you were driving through a plume of toxic gas/particles, you wouldn't mind smelling your armpits and a little extra CO2 if it meant extra protection from whatever is out there.

Hence I believe that if you were really designing a Bioweapon Defense Mode, you would cut the intake of outside air to an absolute minimum. You might not go for zero flow, because you might want to pressurize the cabin a bit (in the U.S., most building mechanical systems are set up this way). But I wouldn't expect to cycle through enough outside air that you could halve the concentration in that bubble (which is probably 10-20 car volumes or more) in less than 15 minutes, as their graph shows.

That would depend on your definition of a "bioweapon". How many people have to be killed by a toxic substance injected into the air to consider it a weapon? 1.2 million people died in China alone in 2010 from air pollution.


1.2 million premature deaths, not outright deaths. These will be people about to die anyway who died slightly sooner than otherwise. Car crashes kill people 50 years ahead of schedule, not 1 year.

Weapons are defined by intent, not body count.

Criminal negligence doesn't require intent. If you fire your gun into the air because you are a jackass, and the bullet comes down somewhere and kills someone, the gun is still a weapon, even though you had no intent to kill.

I think he meant the intent of the creator of the compound/item.

A gun is created to kill. A taser to incapacitate. A knife is created to cut/stab things - and since human flesh is highly cuttable substance even kitchen knives are considered weapons. A car is created to transport people but can be used to kill. Cars are not weapons because in their conception there is no intent to harm someone.

What about a rock? The same analogy holds true. Anything can be a weapon, its simply absurd to contend that intent matters.

There has to be intent in there someone. A gun is a weapon. A rock can be a weapon. A dangerous polluting factory may be criminally negligent and morally despicable, but it's not a weapon unless it was deliberately deployed to maximize exposure to a target group. (Which isn't out of the question, given human nature, but I haven't heard of any evidence for it happening yet.)

What if we replace the gun and bullet with a bottle rocket? Is it a weapon now?

That's kinda the point of the article. Not only does it purify contaminated air for the occupants, it actually reduces contaminants outside the car. Tesla is marketing this to locales with literally dangerous levels of smog.

It is not a bioweapon. It is chemical weapon. Quite the different beast.

Don't think its the filter that they're referring to as BDM, it's positive cabin pressure. Or at least, the combination.

I agree, however how else could they charge god knows how much for a $50 hepa filter?

its not like its new technology. It doesn't say how long the filter lasts, and crucially the failure mode for the filter. (will it bypass when its full? do you get a warning? etc etc etc )

Why couldn't they have just left it as "it's a really good air filter"?

If you're in the vicinity of bioweapon aerosol, the particles will possibly still be present in air once you get out or will have coated your car. Also, for some of these organisms, you only need to inhale < 10 cells for it to cause disease [1], so the filter needs to be (literally?) 100%.

So, unless Tesla plans on packing powered air purifying respirators [2] in their cars, this is a gimmick.

[1] http://www.asm.org/ccLibraryFiles/FILENAME/0000000660/nw1103... [2] http://www.legionsafety.com/msa-optimair-tl-papr-kit-for-hoo...

I think people read it too literally right now. If you say some road bollard is so strong it could survive a bomb explosion you usually don't expect bomb explosions. It's just that it survives large forces.

This system stops particles as small as ones that could be used in bio weapons. It's a theoretic comparison, not a warfare ad.

>I think people read it too literally right now.

Did you even read the article? It literally says this:

"Bioweapon Defense Mode is not a marketing statement, it is real. You can literally survive a military grade bio attack by sitting in your car."

Yes, I did read it. That's how people talk about products these days (unfortunately). But we didn't talk about it that much in case of tank-proof audi:


Or cases that can literally survive a bowling ball:


You're not expected to test either one of those claims. They're just there for comparison of what the product is theoretically capable of. (or going the other way, one could complain that anything below 200mph is not ludicrous)

That doesn't seem like just marketing for the Audi. It seems like the car is seriously intended for individuals who may be attacked, politicians, very rich/powerful people in unsafe areas. It's not for your grandparents to drive to church on Sundays. It looks like most people buying it are politicians and diplomats. The security features are also an upgrade that costs like $600k.

It has a built in "patented emergency exit system, a fire extinguishing system and an emergency fresh air system" [0] and the windows on the standard model can't even be opened/closed. And get this, that emergency exit system will blow the freaking doors off the car so you can exit.

"If the doors can no longer be opened normally, an Audi-patented pyrotechnic system simply blows apart the joins between the doors and the vehicle body and you walk out without even grabbing the door latch." [1]

This Tesla is being pushed as helping people deal with air pollution, but "it can withstand a bioweapon attack! For real!". That Audi is literally for people who might drive over an IED, or get pulled over by a jeep full of people with machine guns.

[0] https://www.audi-mediacenter.com/en/press-releases/audi-a8-l...

[1] http://www.autoblog.com/2007/03/05/a-685k-audi-a8-that-will-...

It's class BR7 protection. That means it protects from lead bullets. That's all. Here's a list of examples of what it doesn't protect from: AK47 with hardened or armor-piercing bullets, incendiary bullets, tank fired shells.

I wouldn't be surprised if the author confused gas tank and tank.

> Oh, and for even more money on top of all that, special battery and tank protection can be fitted.

There is a subtle but - military cannot use bioweapons due to Geneva. Only in Syria they can, but the market for Teslas there is limited. You cannot charge it, there are barely any roads left to drive it on and you will be dealing with a lot of legal to use military stuff raining on your head that Tesla has no protection from.

So that is a statement that cannot be put to the test.

I'll be incredibly pedantic here - isn't it the same as saying that a car can technically go 180mph? The only place on earth where you can drive that fast legally is the German Autobahn, so for 99% of buyers it's absolutely irrelevant. So is defense against bioweapons - what this tells me, is that the car has REALLY good air filtration system, just like the fact that the max speed is 180mph tells me the car is likely very fast. I don't need to use it in a bioweapon contaminated area, or take it to 180mph to find either of those properties useful. They are both useful even when not taken to their absolute limit.

>The only place on earth where you can drive that fast legally is the German Autobahn

Incorrect. Racing your high-performance but street legal cars on tracks is a popular pastime among those who can afford it.

By that logic, you can test your tesla's bioweapon defense system by putting it inside a controlled environment where the system will be put to the test - just like the car is tested to its limits in a controlled environment - ie racing track. Doesn't change the fact that we are still taking less than 1% of the customers here.

Countries have managed to avoid chemical or biological attacks against each other since WW2 (Vietnam and Iraq-Iran being notable exceptions AFAIK). Laws of war are generally taken more seriously than the speed limit.

That's the sort of thing you say when your bollard is not strong enough to stop a fully-loaded tractor-trailer driving into it, which is the use case you would expect for a bollard. Mentioning bomb resistance is just trying to equate different types of large forces in the mind of the buyer.

If a bomb goes off, no one would even care whether that one stupid bollard survived it. The major failure mode of a bollard will be due to buckling, shearing force at ground level, or cracking the foundation cylinder, as the force from impact is transmitted down the lever of the bollard into unyielding earth. And even if the bollard itself is destroyed, it is still partially successful if it can slow down or stop the truck. Does hiding behind a bollard protect you from a bomb? No. Bombs and bollards just don't ever meet in real life.

Bioweapon defense mode is something I would expect in a top-shelf building HVAC controller for hospitals or AAA office space. The bioweapon defense mode that already exists in my own car is "drive as fast as is prudent, away from the attack site, without stopping to refuel/recharge". The bioweapon defense mode for my own home is putting duct tape on the edges of the windows and doors. Anything more would be overkill--a waste of money, over something that will likely never happen.

What is the actual use case here? Pollen. If you're allergic to tree pollen, you will sneeze less on your way to work while driving the Tesla in the spring. Is that statement not exciting enough to sell those cars?

> You can literally survive a military grade bio attack by sitting in your car.

Unless you're being attacked with smog, this seems rather hyperbolic.

I can't imagine that two minutes breathing, say, aerosolized tweaked Spanish influenza, would be 'safe'. Maybe if you were in the car with the system running before the attack, though?

Seriously. Advertising this without testing against pathogens is a joke.

(And I'm as big a Tesla fan as there is, but that's an objective fact from a QA perspective.)

But then again, testing against smog is something a group of engineers can do on their own. Testing against lethal and highly contagious airborn pathogens is hardly something you can just up and do in your ordinary automotive lab. Doubt they're prepared to handle that. Even getting your hands on the pathogens in the first place is difficult, let alone handling them in a safe manner for testing.

But if they're going to advertise this, that's what they need to do.

If you have a sensor that can detect things the size of bioweapon pathogens at concentrations where airborne pathogens would be dangerous, then yes, you absolutely can test for them. And, what do you know, some common bioweapon bacteria are around .5 um, and HEPA filters have to be able to filter out 99+% of objects .3 um to be rated as HEPA bu the US DOE. Add on that many bioweapons are actually not natively airborne and are distributed as aerosols with even larger droplet sizes, 1.5 um to 5 um, and a certified HEPA filter is absolutely capable of defending you from biological weapons. The technology to measure things that small and defend against them is readily available.

God, I hope they don't apply the same rationale to TSA.

"Well, there's clearly no real way to get anything dangerous through here without the metal detectors picking it up, so no need to test our systems with any realistic threats."

The TSA would be completely, perfectly effective if it simply didn't let anybody get on planes. That defeats the purpose of the TSA, of course; they have to let people on planes. Our filter, by comparison, is allowed to stop everything, which makes its job much easier.

* Aerosols are really the only effective way to deliver biological weapons. This holds even with person-to-person transmission; "airborne" transmission almost always means "infected person coughs, spreading aerosolized fluids that contain infectious bodies".

* Aerosol droplets smaller than .5 um don't land on parts of the lungs that can absorb them and are re-exhaled relatively harmlessly. Aerosol droplets smaller than .5 um also lose stability (evaporate, chemical changes, solar irradiation) too quickly to be useful.

"Realistic Threats" are, in this case, particles between .5 um and 5 um. There is zero difference between a droplet with and without an infectious payload. If you really wanted to you could do this test with some completely harmless organism like a household micrococcus strain, but it wouldn't demonstrate anything new. If there are no particles of that size coming through the filter, you are safe, in the same way that the plane would be safe if it took off with no people in it.

"Our filter"? Are you a Tesla Motors employee? If so, question, how about changing the filter after a biological attack? How is that done?

Sorry, started thinking like I was writing a paper. Not a Tesla Motors employee. Used "our filter" to separate it from "the TSA's filter".

For the actual question: you probably leave the filter in place until it's clogged, at which point you replace it as normal except you're wearing a hazard suit. Those filters basically don't let anything go. However, note that the filter will be exactly as contaminated as anything else on the outside of the car is; a persistent weapon will have covered every surface in the attacked area with hazardous numbers of spores or similar, not just the filters. If it's not a persistent weapon - that is, it's designed to kill or incap everybody and then dissipate so your soldiers can walk in two days later and take over - then you just wait those two days.

> Advertising this without testing against pathogens is a joke.

And, possibly, illegal. I mean, it seems to me that asserting that the car provides a "bioweapons defense mode" (and, a fortiori, the marketing claim that "You can literally survive a military grade bio attack by sitting in your car") is clearly promoting the car with a claim that is a "machine...intended for use in the...prevention of disease, in man", and, as such, a medical device subject to premarket and postmarket regulatory control by the FDA: http://www.fda.gov/MedicalDevices/DeviceRegulationandGuidanc...

Don't breathe.

(2 minutes isn't that long to hold your breath for)

It is pretty long for most of the people. Unless you're a pro diver of course.

Biological weapon attack = Hide in Telsa for air filtration

Electrical Grid attack = Telsa doesn't charge

Likeliness deaths from either < Deaths from negligence of bureaucracy, lack of personal responsibility

/me chamber-checks Kalashnikov, takes drag of hand-rolled cigarette, checks internet conspiracy messageboard, and mentally catalogues MRE supply.

Brilliant marketing:

1. get people worried about something they previously didn't care about;

2. as a solution, add a new part to the car that will need frequent replacement and maintenance, thereby increasing the CLV.

I don't think that's completely true. I come from the Polish Silesia region which is full of heavy industry, and in my absolutely normal car I had to replace the cabin air filter every 6 months - it was just black with soot. Now I live in the UK and in my car here I've had the same filter for 2 years now and it's almost brand new - the difference in air pollution is massive and is definitely something I care about.

And your comment reminds me of the discussions about DPF(diesel particulate filters) - they are installed in diesel cars to reduce the soot emissions, but of course, instead of being happy, people complain that there is yet another part that can break down and which will need replacing("why can't cars be as simple as they were 10/20/30/40 years ago" - pick your own decade depending on the age of the person talking).

>the difference in air pollution is massive and is definitely something I care about.

The one hour you spend in your car daily probably isn't going to mitigate what you're breathing in every day outside the car, if that's something you care about.

In London the most polluted parts are the roads, and the pollution people get from "being in traffic" kills significant numbers of people each year.


> Nearly 9,500 people die early each year in London due to long-term exposure to air pollution, more than twice as many as previously thought, according to new research.

> The premature deaths are due to two key pollutants, fine particulates known as PM2.5s and the toxic gas nitrogen dioxide (NO2), according to a study carried out by researchers at King’s College London.

> The study – which was commissioned by the Greater London Authority and Transport for London – is believed to be the first by any city in the world to attempt to quantify how many people are being harmed by NO2. The gas is largely created by diesel cars, lorries and buses, and affects lung capacity and growth.

3. Get the car featured in every zombie/terrorist/zombie terrorist movie made from now on.

I can't wait for the model 3. it will have a bear attack prevention rock as standard equipment!

Indeed. I see people complaint that this is marketing. It exactly is. Just like Steve Jobs and his jewel-style boxes. Some people enjoy paying for a good show. The biodefense is straight out from a Tarantino style: When you exaggerate enough that you can't possibly be taken seriously, but the audience starts discussing whether that's credible or not.

There is a strange expectation that you can't have a good laugh about your products if they are not otherwise perfect. I'm not a sociologist, but something tell me that when the discussion shifts on non-essential elements like the HEPA filter, people assume the rest of the car just works.

I'm asthmatic and I've been told people in a car are more exposed to polluants than cyclists. Should I consider a Tesla ;)?

It is kind of silly all the arguing here. I'm half expecting a study to hit the front page tomorrow that tries to see if the "ludicrous mode" is actually "ludicrous"...

maybe, but you will be losing the Toyota radio that goes up to eleven.

in all seriousness, just buy any car and install the optional hepa filter. no American car install them by default, saving them some $0.50 in production costs. but you can then buy the filters for $10 and install yourself in under two hours. you can even add the active carbon polymer sheet to prevent outside smell.

Knowing Tesla, said bear attack prevention rock would be ferromagnetic and thus it would get launched from a small mass driver, causing it to hit the bear's head at Mach 3.

At least that would be more practical!

This is not exactly new. I replace the air filters in my Mazda and Subaru cars fairly regularly. The filters aren't cheap, either. Same for my Coway unit in our house.

> 1. get people worried about something they previously didn't care about;

If that's good or not depends on if the "something" is a real problem, right? So in this case .... https://www.google.com/search?q=human+cost+of+air+pollution

Maybe it's just all the Prince nostalgia speaking, but ever since watching the classic 1989 version of Batman, I've wondered how long you'd really be safe inside of a car during a terrorist chemical weapon attack.


Thankyou Tesla for delivering a car that the 1989 version of me would have been pretty keen on acquiring!

Speaking of that scene. I've always been skeptical that a jet could drag big balloons away like that. Seems like a lot of weight/drag to load on on the front tip of the plane.

Also, I suspect that a stylized batwing shape may not, in fact, be optimally aerodynamic.

Bats fly pretty good !

This is exactly what I thought of! One of the most memorable scenes of my childhood.

This is so cool. My bosch vacuum cleaner has a hepa filter, I'm going to duct tape my RC car to it, turn it on and call it a "Bio-weapon defense drone"

But apparently that HEPA filter is nothing like the Tesla filter. I believe I saw a comparison where the Tesla filter blocked something like 100x smaller particles than your typical vacuum cleaner HEPA.

If that's the case it probably would have been listed as ULPA...

I hope this is an option on Model 3, too. I'd probably pay $2-5k premium for "really good air filter" if I lived in or frequently travelled through cities with bad air (I'd pay $10k for it in Beijing).

This is impressive but worries me that one day this will be used as excuse to allow excessive pollution.

The average person in China right now need this. Let's hope that the USA doesn't get to the point where this level of pollution is in the air because people who are well-off and control industry all have these cars to drive and be driven around in that filter the air so heavily for them, so it doesn't matter to them.

we see this happen in countries with poor security records. Rich people get high quality private security and then they care less about supporting the police. Similarly with water quality in many countries where rich/middle class people get water delivered. It is in the public interest to not allow the wealthy to internalize these externalities only for themselves so that they focus the government resources towards solving them for everyone.

>Rich people get high quality private security and then they care less about supporting the police.

Do you really think that "rich people" will disregard air pollution because their car provides filtered, clean air?

People will always assign priority to problems depending on how much of it they are personally experiencing.

(With the notable exception of Hollywood celebrities desperately searching for a purpose in life)

And schools, and... that list goes on and on.

Schools are particularly nasty because bad public schools make private schools more effective at giving an advantage in life.

Sorry, but that article has something fishy.

Looking at the graph, there is something wrong. According to the graph (measurement) there is a reduction of the pollution from about 1.000 µg/m3 (minute -3) to 800 µg/m3 (minute 0) before the doors have been closed and before the system has been activated. That is a 20% reduction by nothing has changed.

Possibly, when the opened the doors, cleaner air from the inside of the car mixed with the air from outside and lowered the pollution, but I'm just guessing here.

I think this whole 'research' needs to be taken with a grain of salt. We can keep guessing at what they meant but answers would have to come from them (or other researchers).

I understand that the article is mostly PR, but to demonstrate effectiveness of the filter, why not also present null hypothesis, where no A/C is activated in the car and/or a common car A/C filter.

With both exterior and interior filters, it really goes a long way towards keeping the interior of the HVAC system clean. I'm curious how good a job they do with moisture management though (i.e. keeping the heater core and rest of the HVAC system dry). Considering it's Tesla, I'd wager they're on point.

With some other manufacturers, especially legacy models, you'll usually have little to no intake filtering, and probably minimal cabin filtering. Combined with moisture retention inside the heater core due to design flaws such as insufficient fin spacing or an absent/inactive afterblow module, it can be very bad. For example: toxigenic fungii thriving on the excess moisture, contaminating the passenger compartment every time the blower fan is turned on.

> to major cities in China.

Aaah. Now I getcha.

everyone - this is the button you press when someone farts in the car, nothing more...

> Moreover, it will also clean the air outside your car, making things better for those around you.

I'm very sceptical that this is the case outside of an enclosed bubble.

What TFA doesn't mention is where the actual pollution happens - at the factories producing batteries with dangerous chemical such as lithium, and where the electricity is produced - coal power stations, or if renewables are used, where the renewables are manufactured - for example rare earth minerals such as gallium needed for solar panels being mined in conflict zones with no environment regulation. Yes sometimes the pollution is many levels removed, but in the end Earth is a closed system and as far as I can tell, at least for now, an electric car supply chain produces more pollution over its lifespan than a regular car. It's just that the pollution doesn't happen inside the owners bubble, which the bioweapon experiment so ironically exemplifies.

The difference is that electricity can be produced any number of ways, not just by burning coal, and if some amazing eco-friendly battery alternative appears at some point in the future, existing EVs can easily be retrofitted with them. On the other hand, a fossil fuel vehicle bought today will still be a fossil fuel vehicle 100 years from now, regardless of technological advancements.

No, EVs aren't perfect and may not be for years to come, but they offer flexibility to make up for that. Sitting and waiting for the perfect replacement for ICEs is fruitless; alternatives must first be embraced if they're to ever develop sufficiently.

Even if we were to fuel EVs from oil power plants, those power plants would be more efficient than ICEs (enough to offset transmission/storage losses) and can have much better filtration systems.

Yes, I always shrug reading convoluted arguments like that. In Norway all of the grid power comes from hydro, so the (sizeable by now) fleet of EVs does have zero carbon footprint without any fine print.

I agree with your sentiment. However, wouldn't a person pitching that argument then counter that Norway built their hydro grid in part using oil exports, ie that Norway is responsible for enabling a lot of global pollution per capita in order to pay for that grid (and the on-going vast per capita oil exports necessary to continue supporting it)? What's the counter to that premise?

Norway also exports and imports energy to Europe to exploit the potential for energy price arbitrage. In effect, any country that is connected to an international energy grid has partial responsibility for bringing down global CO2 emissions.

I don't see how this is an argument against electrical vehicles. In fact electric vehicles should increase the incentive to reduce the carbon emissions of electricity production since now at least improvements there will have a material effect on the carbon efficiency of transportation.

(Norway built out most of its energy grid before the oil industry got started, by the way -- but we do maintain out grid partly using tax money from the oil sector, just like all parts of our public sector).

No, the power generation in Norway, like pretty much elsewhere, is paid for by the power consumers, not oil revenues; it also predates discovery of oil deposits in the North Sea.

Well, is your argument that, had Norway not exported oil, the actual use today would be lower?

Would countries use less energy if not for Norway's oil exports?

This has been debunked over and over - here is one source covering co2 emissions http://www.ucsusa.org/clean-vehicles/electric-vehicles/life-...

Lithium-battery factories in the US (where Tesla is building its new megafactory) don't produce any air pollution or any significant pollution at all.

Coal is certainly polluting, but "where the renewables are manufactured" doesn't make any sense — where are sunlight, rainfall, and wind "manufactured"?

Gallium is not a mineral at all or a rare-earth element, most solar panels don't contain either gallium or rare-earth elements.

Rare-earth elements are almost entirely mined in China, except for a recently reopened mine in the US, which are not usually considered "conflict zones".

Gallium is nearly half recycled, but as for mining, it's mostly mined in China, Germany, Kazakhstan, and the Ukraine, of which only Ukraine is a "conflict zone" — although Nazarbayev is guilty of many human-rights abuses, there is no real insurgency there. Germany has some of the most stringent "environment regulation" in the world. Gallium primary production is actually mostly a product of aluminum production.

Earth is not a closed system: we're mostly concerned about energy here, and Earth constantly receives energy from the Sun at a rate of ten thousand times world marketed energy consumption, almost all of which is either reflected or reradiated into space as heat.

As far as I can tell, you just put a bunch of words into your comment with no concern whatsoever as to what they meant or whether any of them were true. Maybe you meant to satirize ignorant pseudo-environmentalism, but environmental damage is a real problem that needs careful discussion. Posting paragraphs of lies, as you did here, is a bad thing to do, because it effectively reduces the intelligence of the people who read your comments — it confuses them to the point that they are less able to make effective decisions.

Please don't post things like this any more.

The main contributor to green house gas emissions from electric cars is from their use, not production. If you want to reduce your carbon footprint electric cars is still a good choice [1].

The LCA literature shows the main contributor to GHG emissions of EVs is the use, and the most important factors in estimating those emissions are the electricity mix, vehicle lifetime, and driver behavior. Battery manufacturing and battery end of life are still being developed and researched, and manufacturing batteries is a large contributor to the manufacturing emissions of EVs.[1]

[1] http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s40518-015-0033-x

Man my car's rear hatch seal leaks exhaust fumes into the body, start to have trips if you sit around too long. Maybe its the straight pipes....

Curious on when they plan to transition to tesla.com

Running an ICE car in a garage will harm you (and kill you pretty quickly), running an electric car will heal you.

It sounds cheesy but it true.

The real question is whether or not it'll pull a fart out of the air before the other passengers smell it...

Has any other manufacturer tried selling cars with this angle? Not really, although claims for car ventilation and air conditioning have been made before. It seems that because Tesla are 'part of the solution' they can take this marketing angle wholeheartedly. I also believe Elon Musk really wants the air quality, he has pushed for this feature.

"You are what you breathe..."

...is my marketing statement for Tesla.

Was air moving around the vehicle to simulate typical driving speeds?

I wonder if the real objective of this is to protect passengers from the hazardous fumes of damaged lithium-ion batteries? I'm not sure though if this could protect against those.

By BioWeapon, I thought they were adding some sort of "pepper-spray" theft deterrent or "defense" feature.

Now make one for my house. :-)

Tesla - not just another cool car. Bioweapon Defense Mode. Ftw!

What is the point of wasting precious resources and taxpapyer money on this ?

If you've ever wanted to travel in Indonesia/Singapore/China locations during the multi-month Haze/particulate issues, you would understand how this is a pretty invaluable technology.

I don't really have any lung issues (that I know of) - but if I forget to bring a mask, and walk for any distance, I start coughing and gagging after a while to clear my lungs.

It gets so bad, that at times people are not only told to stay indoors (where they hopefully have filtered air), but are in extreme cases, evacuated.

Can you imagine how wonderful having this mode of air-cleaning would be during those months if you had asthma (or young children?)

Is Tesla making cars for Indonesia, Singapore or China currently? Surely there are problem all over the planet but I don't see why American government must subsidize solving those problems.

GM, Ford, and Chrysler receive billions in subsidies. During the 2008 Auto crisis the US gave those three $70 billion to keep them afloat. The US subsidizes its car companies. It also spends tens of billions subsidizing Boeing, Intel, Lockheed-Martin, IBM, JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs, and various airlines. Telsa, like many other companies, also receives subsidies. So what? There's nothing special going on here.

Ford's case was somewhat different from that of the other carmakers. They accepted some government loans, but not the cash for equity swap.


>During the 2008 Auto crisis the US gave those three $70 billion to keep them afloat.

Sold equity for it.

Why didn't they sell that equity to private buyers if it was so valuable? Oh wait, the companies were on the verge of bankruptcy so that equity was worthless. Gave is the right word here.

They should not have received it besides more Americans drive Ford,GM and Toyota than Tesla.

With all due respect, and I mean that seriously, I think that your focus on government subsidies is causing you to be overly negative on this feature. I was using Singapore/Indonesia/China as examples of places that I was either directly familiar with, or had recently read about. If it's really important to you, then you can replace those countries with "Heavily Smog impacted regions of the United States, Roads experiencing forest fires (very common), or an driving situation in which particulate matter is problematic for which the driver would like to reduce somewhat"

It's a great function for the home, and I think most drivers would be well served - and in the case of drivers with Asthma, or other ailments impacted by particulate pollution) critically served.

And they aren't. US government does not pay a dime for the marginal production of Tesla cars.

> precious resources and taxpapyer money

I guess you mean the cost to the environment to manufacture large HEPA filters and the government subsidies to Tesla.

In my mind the environmental cost of adding the feature is trivial compared to adding a gimmick to get rich people who like gadgets to purchase electric cars so that we can:

1. Use the high-end of the market to fuel the production of cheaper electric cars on the medium-low end

2. Ween ourselves off of fossil fuels

If the Tesla is for rich people I find it immoral to provide subsidies to it under any pretext. Helping conventional cars be more environment friendly might help poor people more.

Affordable electric cars are the end goal. The government is making an investment to get a beneficial market started. In the long run, this investment will likely have done considerably more good than if that money had been spent to increase direct aid to the poor.

Maybe to pander to the Chinese market? They've been having trouble with cancelled orders in China.

Definitely not a waste of money if it means that they can offload inventory...

I am referring to American taxpayers money. Poorest of poor in America is subsidizing these rich people gadgets at around $8k per unit. Why should we gift this money to China ?

If Chinese people want clean air let Chinese government fund it.

I assume that the cost of the parts are insignificant compared to the cost of R&D and manufacturing labour costs, which AFAIK are all on US soil. Even if a car is sold to a Chinese customer, the money they pay and the money the gov pays is creating more jobs that it would have otherwise (and also lining Musk's back pocket).

> Poorest of poor in America is subsidizing these rich people gadgets at around $8k per unit.

Okay, I'll bite - where's your evidence?

It amazes me that comments like this, more commonly seen in the comment sections on second-tier news sites, exist even on HN.

>exist even on HN

The fallacy is in believing the forums you participate in are, for some reason, not "second-tier".

What? Can you expand on that please?

Elon Musk's rich people's gadgets are heavily subsidized by American government (read average Americans). American government is paying around $8k per car to Musk.

A lot of this money seems to be wasted to adding swag to this car that gets Musk some positive PR if nothing else. It is stupid to point out that this might help China or some other polluted country, why should Americans pay for it ?

Very likely China will ban Tesla and some Chinese company would make similar cars only if Musk could ever make this does-not-run-200miles car.

I thought it was just a tax credit? That's very different than "American government is paying". It's more like, "American government admits that taxpayer has put money to a better purpose than American government would have."

Regardless of tn13's overall point, there's no economic difference between a tax credit and a subsidy AFAIK. It's just politically easier to grant the former.

I am having a hard time understanding your reference to China.

Yes, China is "into" electric personal transportation.


Yes, China has 200 million electric bicycles. At that adoption rate, I would have expected 50 million electric vehicles on the road in the US.

But, the USA appears to be in love with the car. China has 128 cars/1000, USA has 809 cars/1000.

For a great many people, the electric bike would be a great transportation option -- cheap and clean. However, there is no way to compete with China in manufacturing these.

The only hope the USA has is Tesla.

For this reason, I would expect subsidies! USA manufacturing, possible exports, and a cleaner environment.

I personally use an electric bike, for which I received no government rebate... but, I don't have to pay for gasoline, or insurance, so I come out ahead anyway.

What if I don't believe a biological war is likely? Or, what if I would rather just "get it over with" in the event of a biological war?

Can I pay less for a Tesla which _lacks_ this level of filtration?

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