The novel coronavirus has changed much in the way we live our daily lives, and it appears that its effects have caused car designers to work on germ-free cabins to minimise the spread of infections in the future.

Kia’s new design chief Karim Habib told Car Magazine that his team is currently studying ways to respond to threats posed by the coronavirus. He said new materials such as copper – a metal known for its antimicrobial properties – could be used on interior surfaces and common touch points, such as door handles and car controls. “Covid-19 will very much influence the way we design our cars in the future,” he said.

“We’re going to have talks with psychologists and anthropologists to really understand how the public’s psyche is going to be in the future. There are things we’ve already been talking about: can we have anti-viral coatings in our interiors? Can you use temperature or ultraviolet light to sanitise surfaces? These are things that we will have to think about rather soon,” Habib added. He formerly worked at BMW and Infiniti before moving to South Korea as design chief.

The F01 BMW 7 Series was one of Habib’s standout work. He also designed the interior of the E60 5 Series

Prior to this, many car brands were in talks to develop car sharing platforms as a future means of transport, but Habib said this virus might force them to reevaluate those plans. “The pandemic has changed the way we live. Not only over the last few months but the way we will live in the future. For the last few years, we have been talking about a shared economy, shared mobility and public transportation. We will have to see how that develops right now, because of social distancing.”

“These new requirements will have a long-term effect on behaviour. What does this mean for cars? I think we’ll have to wait and see – right now we are trying to expand our understanding of what this might mean – not only the types of vehicles we drive, but also how to design vehicles for shared mobility, or not, as the case may be,” he explained.