ROME – Let’s start with a fact: during the winter electric cars can lose up to 30% of their range, and this for two reasons. On the one hand because the batteries work optimally between 20 and 40 degrees, and as soon as the first sub-zero temperatures arrive they need to be recharged at shorter intervals. On the other hand, the heat in the passenger compartment is entrusted to the air conditioning system, which in turn “sucks” energy from the batteries themselves. Indeed, in electric cars the heating system cannot draw on the residual heat of the internal combustion engine, as is the case in petrol or diesel cars.
So how to do? Here is the idea of ZF, the German multinational manufacturer of components for the transport industry: very normal seat belts that give off heat using the same principle as the thermal blanket. A gimmick capable of drastically reducing the use of the air conditioning system, especially if used in combination with the heated seats. Not only. The electricity saved would, according to ZF, make the car gain 15% more autonomy.
The “heated belts” – baptized by the parent company “Heat Belt” – work thanks to very small conductors woven directly into the structure of the belt. The contact elements for the electric heating circuits are positioned in such a way as not to interfere with the rewinder. ” For the occupants there is no difference compared to a normal belt”, explains Martina Rausch, project manager. “And of course the Heat Belts guarantee the same level of safety as the normal belts we know”.
ZF let it be known that mass production is practically ready, because the very thin structure of the conductors has in no way modified the thickness of the tape, which can therefore take the place of all the old generation belts. Only one question would remain, if we wanted to be picky: and during the summer? Even if the batteries work optimally in the heat, it is nevertheless impossible not to use the air conditioning system, to the detriment of the car’s autonomy. Or maybe they are already thinking about cooling belts?