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Gentherm, GM study shows microclimate comfort system increases driving range of electric vehicles

A study by Gentherm, a developer of innovative thermal management technologies, and General Motors has shown that Gentherm’s ClimateSense microclimate thermal comfort system significantly increases driving range and energy savings in electric vehicles. The results of the study were presented during the SAE Thermal Management Systems Symposium last week in Plymouth, MI.


General Motors’ objective was to achieve a 30% overall reduction in energy that would achieve equal or superior passenger comfort based on 2 occupants per vehicle. Comfort was evaluated by maintaining EHT within ±1 ˚C.

Gentherm developed a proof-of-concept microclimate seat-centric climate control system where the Company designed and integrated a two-zone ClimateSense system into a Chevrolet Bolt EV. The ClimateSense system solution comprises advanced thermal delivery methods, integrated electronics, embedded software, and a novel thermophysiology-based human centric control algorithm.


The collaboration with GM also utilized a novel human-centric comfort measurement methodology to measure passenger comfort and the performance of the microclimate heating and cooling system.

Significant findings include:

  • ClimateSense provides 50-69% energy savings with two zones active and improves overall customer comfort in -7°C cold weather test.

  • ClimateSense provides 34% energy savings with two zones active and improves overall comfort in hot weather testing.

The proliferation of ridesharing, electrification and autonomous vehicles has created a need to redesign the interior of a vehicle. Yet, when we look at the interior cabin of today’s vehicle, the HVAC and thermal management approach has only seen minor incremental changes over the last 50 years.

Our ClimateSense system demonstrates that it can be the solution that meets the industry’s electrification goals of increased vehicle range and energy savings, while creating the overall passenger experience that will meet the demands of electric, rideshare and autonomous vehicles.

—,Phil Eyler, President and CEO of Gentherm



Would this also apply to battery packs performance?

Thomas Pedersen

I saw similar results from a similar study 15-20 years ago...

It's obvious. Just turn on the seat heater in winter and feel how dramatically the comfort increases.

Downside, of course, is the back seat passengers - often kids in child seats, i.e. no heating/cooling. But as a means to drive much more efficiently alone, it would be great.

I wonder if thermal-electric cooling could do the trick with much less installed equipment. Even at low efficiency, it should require a lot less energy than cooling the entire car.

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