Jun 10, 2021

Automotive wellness: the growing importance of health and wellbeing on the road

Category: Automotive
Lumileds Head of Global Marketing for the Automotive Aftermarket, Blandine Devlin.
Lumileds Head of Global Marketing for the Automotive Aftermarket, Blandine Devlin.

We’re all paying more attention to our health these days, and with the recent uptick in vehicle usage, whether for socially distanced commuting or home delivery of online purchases, people are spending longer behind the wheel. ‘Automotive wellness’ is an idea that’s rapidly gaining traction. We asked Lumileds’ Head of Global Marketing for the Automotive Aftermarket Lighting, Blandine Devlin, to tell us more.

Mental and physical wellness are familiar concepts to many, but what is ‘automotive wellness’?

There are two aspects to automotive wellness. Firstly health, with people monitoring their own condition continuously rather than waiting till a problem occurs and then seeing a doctor. That includes time spent behind the wheel, which is logical since certain health conditions or drowsiness at the wheel may impact the safety of a driver’s journey. Secondly wellbeing, which covers driver and passenger comfort (ambient light, cabin temperature and so on). Air quality is an important part of both health and wellbeing.

What does that mean for the automotive industry?

Car makers started to work on automotive wellness around a decade ago, with progress accelerating noticeably over the last five years. Covid-19 has pushed the topic further up the agenda. People are spending more time in their cars – over 40 minutes a day on average according to a recent Forbes article – so their in-car environment matters increasingly. The move towards autonomous vehicles and greater driver assistance means we shall all have more time to focus on health and wellbeing on the road in the future.

Even before Covid-19, air quality was already a hot topic. What were the main factors driving this debate?

Air quality, especially in cars, became a prominent issue in Asia around 15 years ago, fueled by concerns over air pollution in large cities. The media picked up the story, further raising awareness of what has become a global concern. Suspended particles in the air resulting from combustion (like car engines, wood-burning stoves and fires) as well as toxic gases emitted by industry are a worry. So is the harmful mix of gases and volatile organic compounds from new-car interiors, especially in a market like China where car ownership is expanding fast. Beyond that, allergies and respiratory ailments like asthma are also making people more sensitive to the subject.

Who would benefit most from having an air purifier in their car?

Two groups can benefit especially. Parents of young children naturally want to protect the health of their kids. Then there are the professional drivers of taxis and delivery vans who spend their working days in their vehicles and often face a higher risk of infection from passengers or others they meet. People who suffer from allergies or asthma could also reduce the risk of attacks, especially when caught for long periods in traffic.

Are there further developments to come from automotive wellness?

The pandemic has accelerated trends that were already underway. Car manufacturers and OEM suppliers are focusing more closely on driver-centric health, so we can expect to see developments in the monitoring of key indicators such as heart rate, blood pressure or glucose levels. This will probably involve a combination of sensors, cameras and algorithms analyzing vital signs.

What benefits does the Philips GoPure range offer?

The Philips GoPure range features devices capable of dealing with suspended particles, toxic gases and VOCs together with airborne allergens and microbes in a single unit. Some technologies perform particularly well against certain pollutants – UVC combined with HEPA filtration is very efficient at combating viruses and bacteria, for example. Philips GoPure air-purifiers also come in a variety of sizes: our ‘Performance’ range offers larger units to treat greater volumes of air, while our ‘Style’ range includes more compact portable devices that fit in cup-holders.