The transportation industry is at the helm of a seismic shift toward global decarbonization. Electrification, connected cars, automation, ride sharing and machine learning are paving the way to a future mobility scenario where vehicles will integrate seamlessly to deliver on climate-driven sustainability priorities and customer performance and personalization demands. Transportation industry leaders are crucial to the success of the clean energy revolution. Each player within the industry must leverage their specialized expertise and come together to build smart, sustainable vehicles that consumers want to drive and ride in.
The Heat is on as Automakers Seek Differentiation
Interior comfort, infotainment and technology features already serve as key decision-making factors for the most discerning consumer. The expectation for more varied forms of mobility is increasing and as advancements in automation technologies allow the driver to experience a vehicle in new ways, the demand for personalization continues to change the way automakers design vehicles.
While exterior styling is the prom queen, a vehicle’s interior cabin is the valedictorian. The interior is where the rigor of the occupant experience lives and it’s becoming smarter with each generation of vehicles. The supply base is working collaboratively with automakers to design imaginative and intelligent components that will help propel an entire sector forward.
In the vehicles of tomorrow, the systems surrounding the individual will become the brains of the operation and suppliers like Gentherm are committed to ensuring the occupant experience delivers effortless comfort. Gentherm, a Silicon Valley technology start-up turned global automotive supplier, is at the heart of developing innovative solutions that will impact/revolutionize vehicle interiors of the future. Gentherm develops advanced automotive thermal management solutions, applying expertise from its expansive portfolio of patient body temperature solutions used in hospitals. The science of thermophysiology— the human’s response to thermal input—and Gentherm’s leadership in the medical sector, allows the company to take a human-centric approach to designing intelligent, software-driven thermal comfort systems.
Gentherm supplies heated and cooled seats, steering wheels, heated interior surfaces, neck conditioning, and more to more than 40 global automotive customers. The company is currently innovating vehicle interior technologies that do-away with the decades old notion of getting into a car and manually setting the temperature. Its goal is to enhance interior creature comforts, while improving overall vehicle performance and efficiency, which is especially critical in electric vehicles. Gentherm’s leading technology, known as ClimateSenseTM, is a proprietary microclimate solution that is comprised of advanced thermal products, integrated electronics and embedded software that creates the ideal comfort scenario for every occupant. The technology seamlessly integrates into the existing vehicle architecture utilizing localized convective and conductive heating and cooling solutions, to create personalized comfort while significantly reducing HVAC energy consumption.
The ClimateSense technology is centered around the company’s thermophysiology-based control algorithm that enables microclimates to be perfectly tailored to match individualized thermal comfort needs. Gentherm’s ClimateSense technology targets heating and cooling areas of the body, including the head, face, neck, torso, thighs, arms, hands and feet, to achieve maximum comfort with minimal energy consumption. With our thermophysiology-based software, this approach improves time to comfort by up to 70% in cold weather conditions. Gentherm is collaborating with a global automaker on the release of ClimateSense on an all-new 2024 model year electric vehicle.
ClimateSense also optimizes battery range, achieving up to 69% energy savings in cold weather testing and up to 34% energy savings in hot weather testing, when compared to the existing central HVAC system of a first-generation Chevrolet Bolt EV. Battery electric vehicles will require reliability to offset the barrier to adoption and with an HVAC efficiency breakthrough that enables peak battery performance, the potential for automakers to deliver significant differentiation is within reach.
Gentherm is not only developing innovated solutions for the interior of the vehicle, they are also looking at how their technology can impact the battery itself. Their Battery Performance Solutions provide enhanced cooling to avoid critical temperature ranges, thus slowing the vehicle battery’s aging process, which further advances maximum charging capacity and consistent performance that the end consumer can trust.
Aside from the thermal treatment of battery systems, Gentherm’s engineers have also developed advanced battery monitoring devices into the company’s award-winning Cell Connecting Systems with Mechanical Structuring Process (MSP). The technology enables the measurement of electrochemical impedance to gain highly accurate, stand-alone information from inside the cell on temperature, state-of-charge and state-of-health. In the future, smart data collection like this will be the key in avoiding battery thermal incidents, encouraging improved vehicle performance, efficiency, and range, as well as (and most importantly) occupant safety.
Recent events of the last few years have reaffirmed that a siloed approach to research and development is not conducive to the automotive industry’s aggressive innovation goals. Instead, we must increase collaboration to ensure systems integrate seamlessly with a common end goal in mind.
As cars, trucks and SUVs as we know them are changing rapidly, escalated by consumer preference for enhanced technology, smart systems and creature comforts, a human-centric vehicle design is the key to differentiation in this electric vehicle revolution. To Gentherm, the person is the priority, and that in itself will drive the evolution of the cabin and help elevate the future occupant experience for drivers and passengers alike.