Heated seats and steering wheels do a great job of making the colder months bearable, but soon, you could be experiencing additional warmth from an additional source in your car: the seatbelt. The catch? You’ll be more likely to find it in an electric car.
ZF - the German company you’ll probably know for making very good automatic gearboxes - has developed a heated seatbelt aimed at EVs. The thinking is that having a heat source so close to the body is a more efficient way of warming up a human than heating a huge cabin with a load of hot air blowing out of some vents.
By using ZF’s toasty belts combined with heated seats, the car’s heated matrix won’t need to be kicking out so much warmth. This is particularly important in an EV, which can’t use otherwise wasted heat from a combustion engine. Energy instead must be drawn from the battery, so this new tech could increase an EV’s range by up to 15 per cent, ZF claims.
So, it’ll make your car drive further, save you money, and make winter driving less horrible, as you’ll warm up a great deal faster. And as a bonus, ZF reckons there’s a safety advantage. It claims that occupants are less likely to want to wear bulky warm clothing, letting the belt sit closer to the body and thus do its job more effectively should the worst happen.
The concept works via “special webbing with integrated heating conductors,” ZF says, but the belt shouldn’t feel too different, as it’s only slightly thicker. 36-40 degrees of heat is provided as soon as the driver sets off.
So far as we can see, the tech seems to be good to go, although there’s no word on whether or not any manufacturers are interested in adopting it.