German Supplier ZF Announces a Clever New Heated Seatbelt System

Chris Teague
by Chris Teague
german supplier zf announces a clever new heated seatbelt system

Heated seats and heated steering wheels are huge selling points for car buyers living in cold climates, but automotive supplier ZF has another idea. The well-known transmission builder brought a heated seatbelt system to CES that it says will improve cold weather range in EVs.

ZF said it determined that a device similar to an electric blanket would be more efficient than traditional climate controls. Combined with heated seats, the company believes its belts can improve passenger comfort quickly and boost range by up to 15 percent. 

Though it contains heating conductors, the seatbelts – also known as heatbelts – don’t feel or operate differently from conventional restraints. ZF also said the belts don’t require any special installation or extra work from automakers. The company believes its invention will be in-demand, as automakers want to increase occupant comfort and convenience without impacting range or performance. 

As you might guess, heated seatbelts have limited effectiveness when passengers wear coats, and ZF acknowledges that challenge. That said, the company correctly points out that heavy coats can interfere with seatbelt operation anyway, and that passengers are safer when they take them off. 

We don’t know when or if the heatbelts will land in a production car, but it’s likely at least a few automakers will take ZF’s bait. Heated seats and heated steering wheels are hugely popular options, and buyers made a lot of noise when automakers cut the features due to the chip shortage. 

[Image: Screen capture from ZF video]

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5 of 19 comments
  • MKizzy MKizzy on Jan 06, 2023

    If anyone thinks heated seatbelts is a questionable idea, wait until the aftermarket for keeping EV drivers warm in the winter really gets going. Any day now, I'm half expecting L.L. Bean to introduce plug in heated jackets and pants that can be recharged kinetically by walking around.

  • Ravenuer Ravenuer on Jan 06, 2023

    I agree with most of you on here, this is a useless idea. Everybody I know wears a coat in winter and does not take it off in the car. Unless you're starting off on a cross-country trip or something.

  • ToolGuy ToolGuy on Jan 06, 2023

    The method they are using for heating the belt is interesting:

    "Small wires, known as heating conductors, are woven directly into the belt structure like threads."

    Seems like a potential way to get a relatively inexpensive(?) cloth heated seat with lower current draw(?) than conventional heated seat elements. (Heat the top of the center console and the driver floormat while you are at it.)

    • Slavuta Slavuta on Jan 06, 2023

      I guarantee you, these wires will break in the seat

  • Wheatridger Wheatridger on Jan 09, 2023

    The current seat cushion and back heaters have a much larger contact surface to deliver heat to the occupant, so why is this necessary? The main effect would be to remind me at all times that I'm wearing a shoulder harness. While my left shoulder gets hot and my right shoulder feels colder.