Since all of the electronics in an electric car are reliant on the same battery as its motor, driving around in the winter with the heater blasting can greatly reduce its range. But a new type of ultra-thin, and ultra-efficient, heating panel covered in carbon nanotubes might change that.
The heating requirements for electric vehicles is even greater than conventional cars because there's no gas-burning engine producing an endless supply of excess heat; it all has to be generated from scratch.
Developed by researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Engineering and Automation IPA in Stuttgart, Germany, the new ultra-thin panel heaters, made by coating a film in a layer of conductive carbon nanotubes just a few micrometres thick, can actually be installed almost anywhere. But to maximise their effectiveness in an electric car, the researchers designed the panels to be invisibly integrated into body panels surrounding the passengers so their passive dispersion of heat was as close as possible.
Not only is the conductive carbon nanotube film more effective at converting an electric current into heat which reduces the drain on the car's battery, they also heat up and cool down almost immediately. Which means that when you first start your car on a freezing winter morning, you don't have to endure those sub-zero temperatures for five minutes before your vehicle warms up. That alone could be worth the price of the upgrade.