At the Krimml Waterfalls in Austria, each cubic centimeter of air contains up to 70,000 negative ions.
It’s no accident that most climatic health resorts are located either in the mountains or at the seaside. That’s because the air at the coast and in the mountains is fresh and pure, which enhances your sense of wellbeing, reduces stress and consequently improves your health. We go to these restorative places when we feel run down, drained and tired—when we want to literally take a breather. And it works like a charm. One of the many reasons for this are the higher levels of negatively charged ions in these environments. These revitalize human cells and boost our immune system, resulting in a positive effect on our wellbeing. The air we breathe contains both positive and negative ions. But the poorer the air quality, the lower its concentrations of negative ions. While there are several tens of thousands of negative ions per cubic centimeter of air in open countryside, such as close to waterfalls, those numbers sink to a couple of hundred in urban areas and can approach zero in closed spaces. Despite this, the German Environment Agency reports that your average Central European spends 90 percent of their life in just such interiors, including inside modes of transportation. So it makes sense that here, too, the roughly 10,000 liters of air that a person breathes daily should be of the best possible quality.
ION CONCENTRATIONS INDOORS AND OUT
According to the World Health Organization, air pollution in China is among the worst in the world. Every hour the body is exposed to this environment shortens your lifespan statistically by 20 precious minutes. So it’s not surprising that the Air Quality package is highly sought after on Asian markets. But in Europe, too, air-conditioning filters and ionization can virtually eliminate pollutants from a car’s interior, which are especially prevalent when passing through tunnels, sitting in traffic jams or in urban traffic.
Occurring in high concentrations at the coast, negative ions revitalize human cells, enhancing our sense of wellbeing.
This is why the Audi A8 will for the first time be equipped with the Air Quality package, which comprises three components to enhance air quality inside the car. Available since June 2016 in the compact-class models—Audi A1, Audi A3, Audi Q2, Audi Q3 and Audi TT—the combined air-conditioning filter consists of three different layers. In addition to the nonwoven fabric impregnated with activated carbon and a filtration unit to trap fine dust particles, it features anti-allergic properties. In the Audi A8, the system not only removes pollution from the air but—thanks to an ionizer and the Audi Aroma Unit—also keeps the interior atmosphere fresh throughout a trip.
To compensate for the lack of negative ions, the ionizer, which is installed centrally behind the dash panel, artificially generates them and discharges them throughout the vehicle interior via the side vents. When the driver selects ionization using the HMI control concept, the unit’s e-box is activated and a high voltage charge initiated. From there, a separate cable runs to the driver and passenger sides respectively where a small current with a maximum voltage of seven kilovolts is used to release negative ions via two emitters. These charge the microparticles in the air, binding them so that even the finest dust conglomerates and sinks to the floor. The vehicle’s occupants are not consciously aware of the process. “Although the positive effects of negative ions have not yet been officially corroborated, they are perceived subjectively in ways that vary from person to person,” says Karsten Belz, the engineer who has been advancing air-conditioning systems at Audi for the past 20 years and contributed to developing the ionizer. On test drives in the new Audi A8, he noticed that the artificial ionization created a feeling of freshness—even when passing through long tunnels where pollution levels are especially high.
Air-conditioning filter /Protective layers
Audi Aroma Unit / Summer scent
Since the ionizer Audi uses does not produce any ozone detrimental to health, drivers need not be concerned about operating it. In fact, the increased concentration of negative ions in the car’s interior and the consequent improvement in air quality can even enhance the driver’s vitality and ability to concentrate. Air-quality information is shown on the HMI display. In China, where according to World Health Organization statistics air pollution ranks among the worst in the world, this function goes even further: Audi connect links the system with various nearby monitoring stations and displays these numbers in the car.
The premium air quality is still controlled manually, and it’s not the only thing occupants benefit from in the new Audi A8. In addition to the ionizer, the driver can choose to infuse the car’s interior with aroma by tapping the perfume flacon symbol in the HMI and selecting the summer or winter fragrance. This activates the Audi Aroma Unit, an additional component behind the dash panel whose scent, like the artificially generated negative ions, flows out at both sides. To make it happen, air is taken in by the fan, one of two attached aroma containers is opened and the fragrance is blown out toward the sides via air diffusers. From there, it then flows out into the car. Audi recommends the “subtle” setting, although the aroma control can be raised to any of three additional levels, from low through medium to high.
When you get into a new car like the Audi A8, its odor should primarily be neutral. An additional scent is created predominantly by the optional high-quality leather trim in the interior. During the journey, the occupants can be treated to a subtle bouquet. To ensure that this does not overpower the scent of leather, the Audi Aroma Unit continues to operate for two minutes after the engine is switched off. In that time, the last of the fragrance escapes from the conduits so that next time you open the car door, you can once again enjoy that very special new car feeling.
Audi Aroma Unit / Winter scent
By the sea and in the mountains, people are reinvigorated and recharge their batteries. That’s because the fresh air there is full of negative ions—which have a positive effect on wellbeing. With the Air Quality package, Audi now brings this feel-good factor into the new Audi A8. By charging the air in the interior with negative ions, the system counters harmful environmental factors. This can even turn a drive into a revitalizing experience.
The Air Quality package in the Audi A8: All functions can be controlled via the HMI.
“The Audi Aroma Unit contains a kind of intelligence that not only registers whether the air conditioning is on but also measures the temperature inside and outside the car. It regulates the fans and the closing and opening times of the two flacons accordingly,” Karsten Belz explains. When it’s cold outside, nasal membranes are dry and people’s sense of smell is weaker, so the interior needs more scent. The length of the trip also plays a role in the recommended intensity: A subtle to low dose of scent is best for a journey that lasts three hours or so, and medium to high for a short drive. In the new Audi A8, occupants can choose between two different unisex scents depending on their mood and tastes: The fragrances reminiscent of mountains or the ocean were developed in collaboration with french perfume manufacturer Robertet, a company based in Ingolstadt’s partner city of Grasse, France. One scent is warm and soft, the other crisp and refreshing. Ingredients such as the Lavandin variety of lavender lend the winter fragrance its harmonizing effect, while the summer scent with its notes of citrus vitalizes, refreshes and can enhance your joie de vivre—all during a simple drive.
“Our goal is to bring the Alps into the car by letting occupants savor the freshness of mountain and sea air,” says Audi engineer Belz. In this way, the journey becomes the destination and a trip in new Audi A8 a chance to recharge your batteries. For people who don’t have time in their daily lives to take a breather, the Air Quality package provides “wellbeing on wheels” every time the car is used. The four rings’ cutting-edge technologies work together like a soothing spa treatment: The air-conditioning filter serves as the basis for premium quality air, while the ionizer is its revitalizing heart and the Audi Aroma Unit rounds out the experience with a sensual touch. Reenergized by the feeling of freshness, you’ll leave the new Audi A8 with a wonderfully pleasant sensation after each outing.