Impact of Active Climate Control Seats on Energy Use, Fuel Use, and CO2 Emissions

Cory Kreutzer, Eugene Titov, Bidzina Kekelia, John Rugh

Research output: NRELPresentation


A project was developed through collaboration between Gentherm and NREL to determine the impact of climate control seats for light-duty vehicles in the United States. The project used a combination of experimentation and analysis, with experimental results providing critical input to the analysis process. First, outdoor stationary vehicle testing was performed at NREL's facility in Golden, CO using multiple occupants. Two pre-production Ford Focus electric vehicles were used for testing; one containing a standard inactive seat and the second vehicle containing a Gentherm climate control seat. Multiple maximum cool-down and steady-state cooling tests were performed in late summer conditions. The two vehicles were used to determine the increase in cabin temperature when using the climate control seat in comparison to the baseline vehicle cabin temperature with a standard seat at the equivalent occupant whole-body sensation. The experiments estimated that on average, the climate control seats allowed for a 2.61 degrees Celsius increase in vehicle cabin temperature at equivalent occupant body sensation compared to the baseline vehicle. The increased cabin air temperature along with their measured energy usage were then used as inputs to the national analysis process. The national analysis process was constructed from full vehicle cabin, HVAC, and propulsion models previously developed by NREL. In addition, three representative vehicle platforms, vehicle usage patterns, and vehicle registration weighted environmental data were integrated into the analysis process. Both the baseline vehicle and the vehicle with climate control seats were simulated, using the experimentally determined cabin temperature offset of 2.61degrees Celsius and added seat energy as inputs to the climate control seat vehicle model. The U.S. composite annual fuel use savings for the climate control seats over the baseline A/C system was determined to be 5.1 gallons of gasoline per year per vehicle, corresponding to 4.0 grams of CO2/mile savings. Finally, the potential impact of 100 percent adoption of climate control seats on U.S. light-duty fleet A/C fuel use was calculated to be 1.3 billion gallons of gasoline annually with a corresponding CO2 emissions reduction of 12.7 million tons. Direct comparison of the impact of the CCS to the ventilated seat off-cycle credit was not possible because the NREL analysis calculated a combined car/truck savings and the baseline A/C CO2 emissions were higher than EPA. To enable comparison, the CCS national A/C CO2 emissions were split into car/truck components and the ventilated seat credit was scaled up. The split CO2 emissions savings due to the CCS were 3.5 g/mi for a car and 4.4 g/mi for a truck. The CCS saved an additional 2.0 g/mi and 2.5 g/mi over the adjusted ventilated seat credit for a car and truck, respectively.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages25
StatePublished - 2017

Publication series

NamePresented at SAE 2017 Thermal Management Systems Symposium, 10-12 October 2017, Plymouth, Michigan

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/PR-5400-69119


  • A/C fuel use
  • climate control seat
  • CO2 emissions
  • mobile air conditioning
  • off cycle credit
  • seat credit


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