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Forget Tesla — Meet this pollution sucking electric car

Airo electric car concept
(Image credit: Heatherwick Studio)

A new electric car, called Airo, has been unveiled at the Shanghai Motor Show offering a unique proposition. Not only will it not create toxic emissions of its own, but it will also chew through London’s deadly air and filter it, creating a better London for all. 

The car uses High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters which will actually clean pollution from the air. This process takes place as exhaust fumes from other cars pass underneath the car, allowing it to scrub the air as it undertakes journeys. 

The car was made by Chinese company IM Motors. The Airo will have both manual and autonomous modes and IM Motors plans to put the vehicle into production in 2023.

Seating will be arranged in such a way so that all four occupants to face each other, allowing for the car to drive itself while you get on with a tasty meal or business meeting. Converting the car into a bedroom is also possible, which will appeal to the 99.6% of TikTok creators who live in either their car or a converted van. 

A companion charging station has also been designed that could allow the car to neatly sidestep the problems of owning an electric car in the city. This is for those that don't have a driveway or off-street parking. The charging pole, which looks like a walking stick, presents a power cord that can be connected to the car. Placed curbside, it would allow for charging without getting in the way of pedestrians.  

Thomas Heatherwick, the founder of Heatherwick Studio said, “Airo isn’t simply another electric car that doesn’t pollute the air. Instead, using the latest HEPA filter technology, it goes further by also vacuuming-up pollutants from other cars as it drives along. Designed to simultaneously address the global space shortage, Airo is also a multi-functional room with extra space for dining, working, gaming or even sleeping. As a new room for our lives, with a changing view, Airo is a car intended to transport us to a cleaner and better future.”

Heatherwick studios were also responsible for designing the updated Routemater bus for London. The iconic design was incredibly popular and by appealing to the people who live on a diet of nostalgia so then-mayor Boris Johnson commissioned the company to create a modern version, which they did with great skill. The bus is a joke, but mostly because Heatherwick was ignored when it mentioned that having windows that opened might be a good idea.

Hopefully the Airo will have either fantastic air conditioning, which the new Routemaster did not, or some windows that open. We’re presuming the latter, so occupants get to enjoy all that clean air it’s going to make. 

A tech journalist with many years of experience, Ian got his start writing about the battle between HD DVD and Blu-ray. Technology might have moved on, but there's still plenty of skirmishes to report on.