My family is a Volvo family. Volvos are from Sweden and they take winter very seriously. There are a number of ‘winter’ climate options that were, at least at one time, available on Volvo’s cars. For instance:
- Parking Heater
Sometimes known as a ‘Fuel Driven Heater’ or after one of the popular brands Webasto, Espar, Eberspacher.
This is essentially a tiny gasoline or diesel (from the car’s fuel tank) furnace, mounted under the hood, that is plumbed into the car’s cooling system and hooked up to the climate controls. You start the heater remotely, and it heats the coolant and pumps it through the system, heating the engine and supplying heat to the cabin heat exchanger. Some can even use the car’s climate systems to turn on the blower fan and fully heat the cabin.
- Pause Heater
Sometimes known as a ‘Residual Heater’ or “Rest Heater’ on BMWs. This is an electric coolant pump, plumbed in with the cabin heat exchanger. When you turn the car off there is a lot of heat stored in the coolant, but only a tiny amount of it is left in the cabin heat exchanger. You press the ‘Rest’ button and the electric pump moves the coolant around so you can run the cabin heater for about 10 minutes after the engine is turned off.
- Electric Cabin Heater
This is an electric space heater that you place inside the cabin. Of course it’s got over-temp and tip-over systems so it won’t catch anything on fire.
Are any of these options available on ANY car sold in North America now?
Questions like these remind me why I am so fond of the comments from the Best and Brightest in this series. Because my knowledge of this topic is weaker than most, and PR folks aren’t lining up fancy new press cars in my driveway. But I got a plan, son. I got me some Google and we got the Best and Brightest, baby!
- Parking Heater: Well, Volvo’s still got it! But it’s a dealer installed accessory, if that matters.
- Webasto still makes one, fitting many a VAG product in Europe. I’d be shocked if manufacturers in North America follow suit, even if the concept’s proven itself in American RVs and 18-wheelers. No matter, Webasto’s own video implies it’s somewhat universal:
- Pause Heater: The BMW Rest system is/was a neat hallmark of the brand, but there’s conflicting info on the ‘net about whether it still exists in this age of i-Drive, start-stop equipped BMWs. Perhaps a trip to your local dealership to question the i-Drive skills of a sales expert is in order!
- Electric Cabin Heater: These are standard fare in every Nissan Leaf and Tesla Model S, as they have no internal combustion to feed you hot air! Cuz hot air is the job of their greenwashing-marketing departments! I kid, I kid!
- Even the darling of the Hybrid world, the Toyota Prius has an electric heater. It’s entirely possible that super-uber luxury cars use this electric helper and a conventional heater core from the cooling system. But, but, BUT…many cars sport seat heaters, steering wheel heaters and (drum roll please) the new S-class has armrest heaters!
Considering the electrical load of trying to heat an entire cabin, don’t be surprised if heating your ass, your back, your hands and your elbows does the same thing but far more efficiently. Get into those warm items and soon enough the conventional heater will have your back. And everything else. Literally.
Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.