DETROIT – Detroit is once again the home for the year’s newest cars -- but this year’s models are designed for the times.
Honda is donating its first 10 minivans specially fitted for transporting those sick with coronavirus (COVID-19) in Detroit.
“They set up air handling system so that the air didn’t move from the back to the front so the drivers could make one run after another and not have to worry,” Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan said.
The front and rear cabins are sealed off with a sheet of clear plastic between, creating a pressure difference between the two zones of the car. Higher pressure air in the front where the air is then pushed to the rear. The pressure ensuring there’s never airflow from the patient to the driver, much like the pressure barrier created in hospital rooms.
In a town built on the American auto industry, it was Duggan’s office who reached out to Honda. At his daily press conference, Duggan declined to answer why he turned to a company outside than the big 3: Ford, GM or Fiat-Chrysler. Instead, he asked the Honda representative at the briefing to explain Honda had already engineered a similar system for other vehicles in Tokyo. He said it only took two weeks to retrofit the minivans in Ohio to be shipped to Detroit.
The vans will be operated by local taxi companies which are supposed to sanitize the interior after each ride. They also won’t be exclusively used for patients but also healthcare workers who also expose themselves to the virus every day and those looking to be tested at a city testing site.