Fight allergies, drive a 2013 Ford Fusion
If you've ever had a sneeze-attack behind the wheel, you may want to consider buying a 2013 Ford Fusion. Ford is touting its new sedan as a mobile allergy mitigation model.
The new-model Fusion is designed to minimize the exposure to common skin irritants, such as natural latex and hexavalent chromium -- a chemical sometimes found in dyes, paints, plastics and nickel -- that often give skin rashes to allergy sufferers, according to the company.
"Allergies affect large numbers of people, so anything we can do to reduce potential allergens inside Ford vehicles we do through rigorous, controlled testing," Linda Schmalz, supervisor of Core Material Engineering for Ford, said in a statement. Ford testers make sure dyes and formaldehyde are strictly limited to levels that are acceptable even for clothing."
Components requiring allergen testing include common high-touch areas such as the seats, steering wheel, armrests, door handles and shifters.
Ford is also installing cabin air filters that prevent allergens such as dust, spores, fungus, soot, smog, tobacco smoke and pollen from entering the vehicle.
"Because of the seamless way it works, many customers may not realize they have a cabin air filter. In most cases, the filter is accessed through the glove box. Ford dealers change the filters as part of the recommended maintenance for all vehicles," Ford's statement says.
Goin' mobile with in-vehicle wellness
The allergy-fighting vehicle comes after Ford, in 2011, kicked off a series of research projects for in-car health and wellness-connected services, such as medical device connectivity, cloud-based health management services and mobile app integration. (See: "Ford and State Farm: in SYNC for car insurance discounts.")
As part of the in-car wellness initiative, Ford also launched the SYNC AppLink-compatible Allergy Alert app -- available on the 2013 Fusion and other new Ford vehicles.
Through the app's pollen index rating, drivers can request to hear the types of allergen conditions they are likely to encounter that may cause a flare-up in personal allergy symptoms. The app also provides a risk index for asthma, flu/cough/cold and ultraviolet rays.
Drivers can access Allergy Alert app information by connecting smartphones or tablets to their cars using voice commands, while keeping their hands on the wheel and eyes on the road, according to the company.
This begs the question, if you're an insurance site editor: Will health insurance companies offer premium discounts in the future for allergy sufferers who buy cars like the 2013 Fusion? While it's too soon to tell, it's not that far-fetched to wonder, considering health insurers are already offering incentives for people who maintain a healthy lifestyle. (See: "Take care or pay a higher share of your life insurance.")
And, forgive the pun, but down the road will car insurance companies give you a discount if you drive an allergy-avenger? That also could be plausible, in my opinion, given the wide range of auto insurance discounts that exist now in the marketplace, including, but not limited to those for:
- 3.0 grade-averages
- owning or leasing a hybrid
- paying online
- certain occupations such as firefighters or engineers
- "liking" the company on Facebook
- anti-lock brakes
For now, the SYNC AppLink-enabled version of Allergy Alert is available for iOS devices and is a free app that can be downloaded from the App Store. The 2013 Ford Fusion, however, has a list price of about $21,900 to $32,200.
Des Toups is a writer, editor and expert on insurance, cars and personal finance. He has written extensively about all three for national publications such as MSN and major newspapers such as the Seattle Times. He has been quoted about insurance issues in The New York Times, USA Today and Kiplinger's.
Follow him on Twitter @destoups