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The Hidden Dangers of Driving in Dust Storms

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With increased concentrations of quartz, soot and germs within cars, commuters should be aware of the dangers of unclean air within their cars explains TR Ganesh, General Manager, Blueair Middle East.

Whether it’s commuting to work and back, dropping kids off on the school run, or simply doing the grocery chores, people in the UAE are spending more time on the road than ever before. Globally, we spend 10 hours a week travelling inside vehicles, and in Dubai, nearly two of those hours is spent in traffic jams each week.

Beyond the frustrations of tailgaters, lane breakers and badly-behaved drivers, however, is a hidden but more dangerous problem: air pollution. Not only does vehicular air affect commuters’ health, but the dust storms blowing in from the UAE’s deserts bring an additional host of particulate impurities.

TR Ganesh, General Manager, Blueair Middle East.

While the largest particles are filtered out, those under 10 microns in width easily get lodged in the lungs, from where they can enter the bloodstream and reach the heart. The WHO describes air pollution as the most dangerous health threat, estimating that it caused nearly 4.2 million premature deaths in 2016, from stroke, ischemic heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, lung cancer, lower respiratory infections, and diabetes. The transport sector is a major source of this health burden through its contribution to elevated fine particulate matter (PM2.5), ozone, and nitrogen dioxide concentrations.

Compounding the dangers are the fact that the air inside your car may be up to 15 times more polluted than the atmosphere outside, according to researchers from King’s College London – contrary to common belief that the air within their cars is safer than that on the street. Meanwhile, scientists at the University of Surrey have found that vehicles stuck in traffic jams contain airborne impurities up to 40 times higher than moving cars. Taken together, that’s a potent health risk for anyone – adult or child – spending hours on the road.

Commuters would do well to consider the breadth and impact of these aerial dangers – and how their risk might be mitigated. What exactly are these invisible particles? Typically, air within a vehicle is composed of a variety of pollutants. Particulate matter in cars here in the UAE could take the form of ultrafine aromatic hydrocarbons, carbonyls, semi-volatile organic compounds, microplastics and microbes, in other words, soot and germs, according to research from the American University of Sharjah.

On dusty days, meanwhile, primary pollutants in the air include quartz and other silica compounds, calcite and gypsum and sea salts. In new cars in particular, there is also the risk of volatile organic compounds such as benzene, toluene and formaldehyde, which come from off-gassing of the materials and finishes of the vehicle interior, including plastic, polyester and leather.

Inhaling these impurities unleashes them onto our respiratory system, where they can cause havoc in different ways. Coarse particulate matter – with specks of over 10 microns in diameter are associated with nasal and upper respiratory tract issues, while finer flecks reach deep within our bodies to trigger longer-term ailments including cancer, and alarmingly, impaired brain development in children.

Before you shrug away those threats, consider this research from Emission Analytics. As the leading global testing and data specialist for the scientific measurement of real-world emissions, the organisation examined 11 different car models currently being drive on UK roads – with many of the models being sold in the UAE – and found that air-conditioning system in most cars are unable to filter out particulate matter and other impurities.

Some makes block out just 1 per cent of all pollutants, while others manage between 35 and 40 per cent. People inside such cars are likely to inhale as many as 13 million particles with each breath. The risks only multiply in a sandstorm-induced traffic jam. WHO data shows that the air in Abu Dhabi has nearly treble the number of ultra-fine particles of less than 2.5 microns than London’s atmosphere. In London, or biking to work could help, in Abu Dhabi that’s not as easily done.

An easy solution would be to supplement your vehicle’s cabin air filtration system with a cabin air purifier. The best products offer high-efficiency cabin air (HECA) – preferably with activated charcoal to filter odours and gaseous pollutants ­– and offer 95 per cent filtration of particle pollutants down to 0.1 micron in size. Supplementing your vehicle’s cabin air filtration system with a cabin air purifier may help reduce your exposure to harmful air pollutants.

Civic-minded citizens could go one step further and press the need for regulation of in-vehicle air filtration and global enforcement to improve their own lives and those of their children. Our health is too important to be taken lightly.

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MG Motor Conducts Hot Weather Testing of its All-Electric Marvel R in the Middle East

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MG Motor has confirmed it has been conducting hot weather testing of its all-electric and exciting Marvel R model in the Middle East.  This marks a crucial phase for the MG brand as it looks to pave the way for future all-electric car launches in this region.  The car has been pushed to the limits as part of a range of different evaluations in various hot weather situations and conditions, to ensure it lives up to the high standards delivered by the rest of the MG product lineup.

The MG Marvel R embodies a progressive design interpretation of the future that endows it with an attractive and powerful presence.  The Marvel R is a zero-emission, all-electric flagship SUV from MG that offers unparalleled class-leading features, comfort, safety, reliability, as well as range. It exemplifies the dynamic and progressive nature of the brand. The first stage of the Marvel R testing in the region occurred in the UAE in 2021 under cooler conditions. This second testing stage is now taking place in the extremely hot weather conditions of the UAE and soon across all the GCC markets.

Tom Lee, Managing Director of MG, said: “When we relaunched the MG brand in the Middle East, we committed ourselves to work incessantly with our team in HQ to ensure our products are continuously enhanced and optimally equipped for each individual market’s environmental conditions.  This ensures our vehicles, especially our fully electric Marvel R, are among the most capable vehicles in all our markets. With these assessments, we are getting closer to introducing an exciting range of electric models to our customers in the Middle East who are ready to embrace an all-electric lifestyle.”

The all-electric Marvel R from MG is a full battery-electric SUV for a new generation of drivers who value innovative design, personal comfort, outstanding performance, and a confident range with fast charging capabilities.  The car has an eye-catching look to match its inner strength.  A smooth, sporty design accentuates the SUV coupe body type, with a low and rear-leaning centre of gravity.  The forceful and elegant X-shaped face flows from the front into wide, bold body contours, forming an unmistakably powerful design statement.

“The car is equipped with innovative technology to offer the driver an immersive, exhilarating drive.  Middle East drivers will get to experience technology at an advanced level with real-time functional information and personalised entertainment, while making the most of hands-free music, navigation, phone, and vehicle controls.  The car’s Zero-emission performance has a 70-Kilowatt battery and a maximum range of 402 kilometres (WLTP).  With three electric motors, a combined 288 PS, and 665 Nm performance, the MG Marvel R accelerates from 0-100km/h in just 4.9 seconds,” the company said.

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INFINITI Rolls Out its INFINITI VALET Program Across the Middle East

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With the aim of providing a premium experience for its owners, INFINITI Middle East has rolled out the INFINITI VALET Program across the Middle East, offering vehicle pick-up and drop-off when scheduling a maintenance service without having to visit the service centre. Available throughout the region, including UAE, KSA, Kuwait, Oman, Bahrain, Qatar and Jordan, the INFINITI VALET Program can be easily reserved on any maintenance appointment touchpoints, including the web contact form and via the call centre.

INFINITI customers can have their vehicle collected for an upcoming maintenance appointment by VALET truck (where available), a service team member or a recovery vehicle from their home or office. Payment can be settled online after the service is completed and the car is returned to the owner.

“As a human-centric organization, we understand the value of convenience and in crafting a premium customer journey. With service offerings such as INFINITI VALET, we create a seamless experience that enables our customers to rise above the details of every day, by returning to them the luxury of time,” said Andrew McLaughlan, Managing Director, INFINITI Middle East. “The INFINITI VALET Program is rooted in our Japanese heritage and honours our commitment to providing thoughtful hospitality.”

The INFINITI Valet Program is available to all INFINITI customers, regardless of vehicle age, and is not limited to any kind of warranty. The program can also be used in conjunction with INFINITI’s Courtesy Vehicle Program, where available, allowing the INFINITI owner to enjoy seamless mobility while their vehicle is being serviced.

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Cadillac Reveals CELESTIQ Show Car

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Today, Cadillac unveiled the CELESTIQ show car, a vision of innovation and purpose that previews the brand’s future handcrafted and all-electric flagship sedan. Conceived to lead Cadillac’s electric future and inspired by the brand’s 120-year heritage, it serves as a touchstone for the Cadillac design and engineering teams, who continue to develop CELESTIQ as it moves closer to production.

“The CELESTIQ show car is the purest expression of Cadillac,” said Magalie Debellis, manager, Cadillac Advanced Design. “It brings to life the most integrated expressions of design and innovation in the brand’s history, coalescing in a defining statement of a true Cadillac flagship.”

In developing the show car, the design and engineering teams immersed themselves in the artisanship and customization that defined early Cadillac sedans such as the bespoke V-16 powered coaches of the prewar era, and the hand-built 1957 Eldorado Brougham. The CELESTIQ is the culmination of that heritage, brought to life with innovative production methods and new technologies.

“Those vehicles represented the pinnacle of luxury in their respective eras, and helped make Cadillac the standard of the world,” said Tony Roma, chief engineer. “The CELESTIQ show car — also a sedan, because the configuration offers the very best luxury experience — builds on that pedigree and captures the spirit of arrival they expressed.”

Designers drew further inspiration from classic architecture such as the mid-century masterpieces of architect Eero Saarinen, along with other iconic American designs, which made era-defining statements when introduced and endured with distinctive timelessness.

Realizing and infusing those influences within an Ultium-based EV architecture resulted in a clean-sheet expression for the CELESTIQ show car that considers the entirety of travel as a curated experience — one intended to evoke an emotional response.  The result is a vehicle that makes a magnetic first impression and cultivates a permanent personal connection.

“We’ve combined the beauty of function with the beauty of form,” said Laetitia Lopez, Color & Trim creative designer. “We had to reconsider all aspects to immerse the customer, all of their senses, and create a connection with the vehicle through the finest genuine materials, exceptional detailing and advanced technology.”

The show car previews some of the materials, innovative technologies and hand-crafted attention to detail harnessed to express Cadillac’s vision for the future. Highlights include five high-definition, advanced LED interactive displays, including a 55-inch-diagonal advanced LED display, along with expected many industry firsts such as a variable-transmission Smart Glass Roof and Ultra Cruise1, General Motors’ next evolution of available hands-free driver assistance technology which Cadillac plans to offer on CELESTIQ.

The Smart Glass Roof features Suspended Particle Device (SPD) technology that allows for four zones of variable lighting, allowing passengers to fine-tune their cabin experience for completely personalized comfort and visibility. Additionally, the 55-inch-diagonal advanced LED display introduces a passenger display with electronic digital blinds, an active privacy technology, which is designed to allow passengers to enjoy video content while blocking it from the view of the driver.

While they’re previewed on the show car, these technologies and more will make the CELESTIQ the most advanced vehicle ever from Cadillac. Availability for the production version of CELESTIQ will be announced at a later date.

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