Tesla continues rapid innovation with new seat patent
In February of 2019, Tesla filed a patent for a “Vehicle seat with an integrated temperature-control system,” and now it seems the company has just updated the patent.
The new system will heat or cool the seats as needed with the use of coolant, which will ultimately lead to increased comfort and reduced power usage.
The new system will be much more efficient and comfortable than current heated seat technology. Traditionally, car seats get heated by an electric current that flows through resistors and get cooled by a fan under the seat.
The difference between electric resistor-based seat heaters and these new refrigerant-based seats could be compared to Tesla vehicles with electric heaters and those with a heat pump.
A model with a heat pump extracts heat from a refrigerant that is run through the system instead of generating heat using electricity directly. Heat pumps are much more efficient at generating heat when compared to electric heaters. We’d expect a similar efficiency gain from Tesla switching to these new temperature controlled seat heaters.
Most seat heating and cooling systems have 3 heat/cool settings that must be manually adjusted. These types of seat heaters are basically on/off switches and can not control the temperature of the seat well.
Tesla recently added automatic seat heater functionality to Teslas to help address this issue. The new auto setting will automatically turn on seat heaters then gradually lower their temperature as the cabin warms. However, it appears that Tesla is aiming to provide an even better solution with this patent.
Precise Temperature Control
These new seats would be able to precisely control their temperature so that you can set an exact temperature for your seat just like you do for the cabin temperature.
The new seats would be much more efficient than using electric seat heaters and would provide better cooling than running cold air through vented seats.
Better Cooled Seats
Ventilating air through the seat is rarely enough to remove excess heat for the comfort of the passenger.
Instead of blowing cold air into the seat, these new seats would work like an air conditioning system, by removing heat from the seat. This would be much more effective at cooling down the passenger.
Additionally, traditional seat heating systems take up a lot of space and are ineffective because heat typically has to travel through multiple layers of fabric and other materials.
The same way fluid is used to heat/cool batteries, the new system will more effectively transfer heat with the circulation of fluid in between layers of the seats.
The new patent includes multiple layers inside the seat. Under the outermost layer of the seat, there will be a layer of heating/cooling fluid. The fluid will circulate under this layer through the entire seat to ensure that all parts are evenly heated/cooled.
This invention shows how Tesla is innovating and paying great attention to detail in every possible way to make their vehicles more efficient, comfortable and enjoyable for the user.
Tesla’s new partnership with gas and electric company PG&E in California will give Powerwall owners the opportunity to earn money while giving energy back to the grid.
The virtual power plant (VPP) is a connection of distributed energy storage systems that work in tandem to give energy back to the grid to avoid dirty and costly peaker power plants. Essentially, when the grid is being strained, then the VPP can kick in and draw power from Powerwall owners enrolled in the program, and other distributed energy storage system owners, to use clean energy and avoid brownouts across the state.
Here are some of the advantages with this new VPP with PG&E:
Stabilize California’s Grid: The extra capacity your Powerwall provides could help avoid or reduce blackouts in a severe emergency. This way, Powerwall can keep the lights on for both you and your community.
Clean the Grid: Tesla will dispatch your Powerwall when the grid is in critical need of additional power. That is when the least efficient generators would typically come online.
Unite as a Tesla Community: Team up with other Powerwall owners who are accelerating the world’s transition to sustainable energy and help form the largest distributed battery in the world - potentially over 50,000 Powerwalls. As part of the VPP, your Powerwall will have an outsized positive impact on the grid over traditional demand response programs.
Maintain Your Energy Security: Powerwall will discharge during VPP events but won’t discharge below your Backup Reserve. Adjust your Backup Reserve to control your contribution while maintaining backup energy for outages.
Earn Compensation: Through the ELRP pilot, you will receive $2 for every additional kWh your Powerwall provides during an event. You don’t have to change your energy usage behavior to participate.
In 2021, Tesla piloted a test VPP program in California for Powerwall owners to voluntarily opt-in without compensation. The test VPP program would then pull energy from the Powerwalls when the grids needed it.
“Become a part of the largest distributed battery in the world and help keep California’s energy clean and reliable,” reads a statement from Tesla. “Opt-in to the Tesla Virtual Power Plant (VPP) with PG&E and your Powerwall will be dispatched when the grid needs emergency support. Through the Emergency Load Reduction Program (ELRP) pilot, you will receive $2 for every additional kWh your Powerwall delivers during an event. Adjust your Backup Reserve to set your contribution, while maintaining backup energy for outages.”
With Tesla and PG&E’s new VPP program owners will receive $2/kWh, which is quite significant. For comparison, where I live in Southern California, Tesla charges $0.58/kWh for supercharging during peak hours.
According to Electrek, “they could earn anywhere from $10 to $60 per event or more for bigger systems.”
Tesla stated that they have roughly 50,000 Powerwalls that may be eligible for this new program.
In an interview with Tesla Owners Silicon Valley, Tesla CEO Elon Musk revealed that the Cybertruck design has now been finalized. Musk didn’t get into details about the design, but gave a rough timeline for production of the Cybertruck.
With the design now "locked", he estimates production will begin “the middle of next year, roughly 12-months’ish” which would put the first Cybertruck deliveries in the second half of 2023.
Musk did not say when the final design will be revealed, but recent sightings of the alpha builds give us many hints as to what to expect.
When discussing the Cybertruck design Elon said they “got too carried with the…,” before pausing, hinting that they have added a number of new features not included on the original prototype.
While it's not clear what additional features Elon was about to mention, we have an idea of what is to come.
One of the most controversial additions has been the side mirrors, which are required by law, although Musk has said that they will be easily removable by owners.
Another controversial feature of the Cybertruck is the windshield wiper. While we have only seen the large single wiper, Musk did say that the final design would be different than what has been seen on recent builds.
Tesla did patent a laser beam windshield wiper, but we'll likely see something more traditional on the Cybertruck.
Another feature we could see on the final build are doors with no handles. At the Cyber Rodeo, Elon opened the Cybertruck door by pushing a button on the side of the truck. The doors also seemingly open and lock depending on proximity to the vehicle.
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