Anyone driving a battery-electric vehicle in the winter knows that range decreases as the temperature falls. Running the heater further limits range, prompting drivers with range anxiety to wear coats, gloves, and even wool socks to feel comfy.
ZF, a German auto parts manufacturer, offers a solution. ZF has unveiled its revolutionary idea of Heat-Belt. It is a three-point seatbelt heated with wires combined in the fabric that saves 15 percent of range by not having to warm the entire cabin when combined with a heated seat and heated steering wheel.
“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 for ZF.
The ZF heated seatbelt comprises a special webbing with integrated heating conductors that only slightly thickens the fabric. This facilitates integration for vehicle makers while delivering the same level of comfort to passengers as a standard seatbelt.
Because there is no waste heat from a combustion engine in BEVs, the climate control system is powered by the battery. According to ZF, reducing the amount of battery current used to heat the car’s interior and using conventional climate control systems that blow air across the cabin can result in a range improvement of up to 15%.
ZF uses a unique textile processing technology for this technology. The seatbelt’s frame is woven with heating conductors. The position of the electrical heating circuit contact elements prevents them from obstructing belt retraction or operation. Therefore, special belt retractors are not necessary for other installation positions.
According to Fischer, testing has revealed that the belt does not overheat when spooled up.