Tesla Motors has tested an air filter system installed in the Model S and Model X to filter the air that ends up in the cabin – and has come up with a catchy name for it, “Bioweapon Defense Mode.”

While health and safety have been important in the design of Tesla models, the company posted in its blog an article on what it has done beyond making electric cars to deal with air pollution. Tesla cites the World Health Organization’s statistic on air pollution being the world’s largest environmental health risk, with more than three million people dying every year from it – more than twice the number of people that die in vehicle accidents each year. The bioweapons reference has to do with Tesla’s commitment to battle against health-hazard inducing air pollution.

Tesla says that its team has been inspired by the air filtration systems used in hospitals, clean rooms, and the space industry. Tesla developed a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filtration system. It strips the outside air of pollen, bacteria, and pollution before they enter the cabin. Then it systematically scrubs the air inside the cabin to eliminate any trace of these particles. Tesla claims that its filtration system is hundreds of times more efficient than standard automotive filters.


Tesla has tested the air filtration system in real-world environments from California freeways during freeway rush hours; and in marshes, landfills, and cow pastures in the California’s central valley agricultural region. The goal has been to capture fine particulate matter and gaseous pollutants, as well as bacteria, viruses, pollen, and mold spores.

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The HEPA filtration system is also being testing in major cities in China, and that’s where the Bioweapon Defense Mode comes to play. In a video on its Facebook page, Tesla shows a Model X placed on roads in China with extreme levels of pollution. Tesla says that the HEPA filtration system kicked in the Bioweapon Defense Mode, where it cleared pollution from an extremely dangerous level to levels so low as to be undetectable by its test instruments.

Tesla Motors