Seat heating systems in cars these days usually sound better on paper than they are in real life. They consume a ton of energy and typically aren’t that pleasant after the first minute or so.
But Tesla has a solution. In a patent application filed in February and published last week (via Electrek), the company envisions a fluid-based heating and cooling system that, in theory, sounds much better than traditional, air-ventilated systems.
These conventional systems, Tesla claims, “are typically insufficient to remove excess heat and provide a comfortable environment for the occupant.” Furthermore, they’re “bulky, occupy space in the seat which typically requires the seat to be thicker, and are inefficient in heating the seat as the heat typically must travel through multiple layers and heats regions of the seat that the occupant does not contact.”
Tesla’s system, which essentially pushes warm or cool fluid through a layer within the seats using a pump, addresses most of these issues. “The temperature-control system provides a low cost, low noise, power efficient, and effective method for cooling and/or heating of the seat. The temperature-control system may be incorporated in a seat having any size and/or shape associated with the vehicle,” claims Tesla in the application.
There’s no way of telling how well this would work in real life — we’ll know more when (if) the tech makes it to Tesla cars. But a liquid-heating/cooling system does sound advantageous compared to air-ventilated systems, especially when it comes to cooling, as it’s hard to push air through the seat’s foam.
The seat temperature regulation system is not the only liquid-cooling solution Tesla is working on. Also last week, a patent application filed by Tesla in March, described a liquid-cooled charging connector. And another patent application, unearthed in early September, described a new type of windshield wipers, which should be more power-efficient than existing models.