Ford is piloting a new heated sanitization software solution that can help neutralize the COVID-19 virus inside its Police Interceptor Utility vehicles, which helps decrease the potential spread of the virus. Photo: Ford

Ford has developed software that literally bakes the interior of police cars to kill traces of the coronavirus that other cleaning methods might have missed.

Why it matters: The self-cleaning heat treatment is an example of how vehicle manufacturers and transit providers are experimenting with sanitization methods in the COVID-19 era.

The big picture: Police officers are at risk of contracting the virus because they are often dispatched to transport COVID-19 patients when ambulances are not available. Alternatively, they could easily transport individuals who are asymptomatic. Ford, the largest supplier of police vehicles, hopes its sanitization method helps reduce the spread of the virus.

How it works: The software, available on 176,000 hybrid-electric Ford Explorers sold as Police Interceptor Utility vehicles, uses the car's own engine and climate control systems to temporarily raise the cabin temperature to 133 degrees — hotter than Death Valley on its hottest day, Ford says.

  • The temperature is maintained for 15 minutes — long enough to disinfect nooks and crannies that manual cleaning can miss — while flashing lights let officers know the process is underway.
  • Ford partnered with researchers at Ohio State University to verify its effectiveness and tested it on police vehicles in New York, California, Michigan, Massachusetts, Ohio and Florida.
  • "Our studies with Ford indicate that exposing coronaviruses to temperatures of 56 degrees Celsius, or 132.8 degrees Fahrenheit, for 15 minutes reduces the viral concentration by greater than 99 percent on interior surfaces and materials used inside Police Interceptor Utility vehicles," Jeff Jahnes and Jesse Kwiek, laboratory supervisors at Ohio State's department of microbiology, said in a statement.

The big question: Can similar methods be used to create self-cleaning transit buses, subway cars and taxis?

  • Ford says it has no plans to use the technology beyond police vehicles.

Go deeper

The (auto) show must go on — even virtually

Actor Denis Leary (right) and Ford's Todd Eckert launching the F-150 online. Photo: Ford

Many of the year's most important new cars and trucks will be seen for the first time not on stage at an auto show but online in a virtual launch party.

Why it matters: The reveal of an all-new vehicle is typically a multimillion-dollar marketing extravaganza, with pulsating music, bright lights and lots of hype.

27 mins ago - Health

15 states broke single-day coronavirus records this week

Data: Compiled from state health departments by Axios; Map: Danielle Alberti/Axios

At least 15 states broke their single-day novel coronavirus infection records this week, according to state health department data reviewed by Axios.

The big picture: The number of coronavirus cases increased in the vast majority of states over the last week, and decreased in only two states plus the District of Columbia, Axios' Andrew Withershoop and Caitlin Owens report.

Updated 45 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 3 p.m. ET: 11,143,945 — Total deaths: 527,681 — Total recoveries — 6,004,593Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 3 p.m. ET: 2,818,588 — Total deaths: 129,584 — Total recoveries: 883,561 — Total tested: 34,213,497Map.
  3. States: Photos of America's pandemic July 4 ICU beds in Arizona's hot spot reach near capacity.
  4. Public health: U.S. coronavirus infections hit record highs for 3 straight days.
  5. Politics: Trump extends PPP application deadlineKimberly Guilfoyle tests positive.
  6. World: Mexican leaders call for tighter border control as infections rise in U.S.
  7. Sports: 31 MLB players test positive as workouts resume.
  8. 1 📽 thing: Drive-in movie theaters are making a comeback.