The traditional way to keep warm in the cabin of a car is to circulate hot air. Another way is by heating certain contact surfaces. Either way, we need electrical energy to heat either the air or the surfaces. Which method might be more efficient when it comes to electric vehicles? According to a study by Ford engineers, heating surfaces makes more efficient use of energy and therefore increases travel distances by up to 5 percent.
In the all-electric Ford E-Transit, engineers heated armrests, floor mats, door panels, sun visors and a panel behind the steering wheel. The tests were modeled on the deliveries of a cargo handler traveling 350 km per day. The tests took place in Cologne, Germany, from October 2018 to October 2022, taking into account different weather conditions. In conventional heating, where hot air is circulated, hot air is lost every time the driver opens and closes the vehicle door. However, by heating the contact surfaces, the driver is heated directly, which was found to use up to 13 percent less energy. This could have the advantage of extending driving distances through more efficient use of the battery.