LAS VEGAS – Anyone who drives a battery-electric vehicle in winter knows that range diminishes as the temperature goes down. Running the heater reduces range further, forcing drivers with range anxiety to wear coats and gloves and even wool socks to maintain comfort.
ZF has an answer. Using technology inspired by something as old as electric blankets, ZF this week is showing its concept Heat-Belt, a three-point seatbelt heated with wires combined in the fabric that, working with a heated seat and heated steering wheel, saves 15% of range by not having to warm the entire cabin.
“It’s a very simple idea that our engineers came up with when we heard feedback from customers about driving electric vehicles in coats and gloves to preserve range,” says Martin Fischer, board of management and head of Americas for ZF.
The ZF heated seatbelt is based on a special webbing with integrated heating conductors that minimally increase the thickness of the fabric. This makes integration easier for vehicle manufacturers and offers occupants the same comfort as a normal seatbelt.
In BEVs, the climate control system is powered by the battery as there is no waste heat from a combustion engine. Reducing the amount of battery current used to heat the interior of the vehicle may enable a range gain of up to 15% using contact heaters and reducing the usage of conventional climate control systems that blow air throughout the cabin, ZF says.
ZF uses a special textile processing method for this innovation. The heating conductors are woven into the seatbelt structure. The contact elements for the electrical heating circuits are positioned in such a way that they do not interfere with belt operation or retraction. Special belt retractors at other installation positions are not necessary. Fischer says testing shows no issue with the belt overheating when spooled up.