Tier 1 automotive components supplier ZF has developed a heated seatbelt for electric vehicles designed to reduce the energy used to heat the vehicle and improve safety by dissuading occupants from wearing bulky warm clothing that can hamper the effectiveness of restraint systems.
Especially effective in combination with seat heaters, the warm embrace of ZF’s seatbelts is claimed to increase EV battery range by up to 15 per cent.
Based on a special webbing with interwoven heating conductors, the special seatbelts are “minimally” thicker than regular items, providing the same level of comfort for occupants and making integration easier for vehicle manufacturers.
The heated belt is designed to provide occupants with a uniform feeling of warmth close to the body immediately after the vehicle is started, typically heating to between 36 and 40ºC.
In combination with heated seats, the heated seat belt has the potential to provide occupant comfort quickly.
Because the HVAC systems in electric vehicles are powered by battery current due to a lack of usable waste heat from an internal combustion engine, reducing energy used to heat the interior of the vehicle by directly heating occupants’ bodies should yield battery range gains in cold weather.
Contact elements for the seatbelts’ electrical heating circuits are positioned in a way that does not interfere with belt operation or retraction, so special retractors or installation positions are not necessary.
No added procedures or qualifications are required for OEMs to homologate the heated seatbelts and they are claimed to equal the occupant protection of conventional seatbelts.