The TÜV Rheinland Group in Cologne - an authoritative industry body controlling and approving quality standards of industrial and consumer products - has given its "allergy-tested interior" seal of approval to the Ford Focus C-MAX minivan.

It is said to be the first time ever that independent, external experts have certified that the interior of a car consists exclusively of materials that reduce the risk of allergies to the lowest possible level.

Prior to issuing the certificate, extensive and scientifically verifiable tests were carried out in accordance with strict TÜV examination procedures. In a comprehensive examination trial at Ford's initiative, all materials were tested for substances of potential concern. Additionally, all components likely to have direct and prolonged skin contact such as seat covers, floor mats and seat belts were also dermatologically tested.

"Allergies are still being underestimated. They affect the lives of a great number of people of all ages", said Ford Europe vice president for product development Derrick Kuzak.

"Ford will also have future cars certified according to the TÜV criteria. For those models that are already on the market, material changes will be introduced in order to meet the stringent requirements of the TÜV seal of approval. This will not happen overnight, but we're committed to having allergy tested interiors in all our cars."

During the development phase and selection of materials for the passenger compartment of the recently launched minivan, Ford abstained from using materials such as latex or nickel, which can provoke allergic reactions with allergy-sensitive people. The vehicle also has a high-performance pollen filter, which has also been certified by the TÜV.

The TÜV certificate is also a useful orientation guide for people who are not allergy-sensitive, since an important part of the TÜV tests consisted of extensively analysing passenger compartment air quality and thereby examining the concentration of organic substances such as formaldehyde, phenols, phthalates, or solvents. Measurement and assessment criteria are published on the internet.