Rebecca Bernard
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Honda Develops A New Mask — For Your Car

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grey Honda Kurumask mask filter over a standard white cabin filter
Photo: Honda Japan

No matter how you feel about them, masks are now a part of our daily lives to slow the spread of COVID-19. In the near future, it’s possible that your Honda vehicle might be able to do its part by wearing a mask of its own.

Called the Kurumask, or car mask, it’s not an actual mask for the front of your ride (although that could be cute). Instead, it’s a filter that goes over your vehicle’s standard cabin air filter to stop viruses and bacteria. The “mask” was originally developed by a third party to help move COVID-19 patients while protecting drivers. Honda then paid for it to be tested against E.coli phage molecules.

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In testing, the Kurumask managed to nab 99.8 percent of the virus droplets in the air in 15 minutes with the climate system on air-circulation mode (limiting outside air coming into the cabin). The number rose to 99.9 percent in 24 hours. There isn’t an industry standard yet for testing specifically against COVID-19, but these numbers against another harmful droplet is a good sign.

It’s not a surprise that an automotive company is trying to do what it can to stop COVID-19 from spreading inside cars. Many businesses have upgraded their air circulation systems this year with improved filters or UV lights to kill harmful particles and protect customers. Doing the same thing in a car could go a long way toward helping businesses that rely on more than one driver per vehicle, like car-share services.

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According to the team at Honda, one of these masks should last in a car for a year, so you won’t have to replace it as often as filters in your home. If you’re wondering when you can buy a Kurumask for your own Honda, it might be a bit of a wait. It debuted on Dec. 25 in the N-Box microcar, which is not available in the U.S. There are plans to make masks to fit other models, but there is no schedule yet for a large-scale rollout.