That’s also one of the reasons why you’ve seen the Mercedes-Benz EQS or the Audi A6 e-tron Concept looking a bit weird. These cars are striving for the same goal: efficiency. Unlike Ford’s approach, German automakers are very conscious of aerodynamics.
But the Michigan-based automaker has its own plans, as the attached United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) patent filing shows.
Most vehicles come with heated steering wheels. The electric unit used for this action comes as a heater mat and/or extends over the entire surface of the rim. Usually, the process starts from the spokes that connect the center of the steering wheel with the rim and gradually extends to cover the entire part.
Ford is looking to change this inefficient process by adding a plurality of individual zones that can be electrically heated when the function is active and only on the areas that are being touched by the driver. This is achieved with the help of capacitive sensors.
These patch-like zones include a controller that’s able to make use of the circuitry in each individual zone. It starts operating as soon as the driver puts his hands on the steering wheel. If the hand is removed, then it stops.
You may be inclined to think that this system won’t guarantee a heated steering wheel that can work as advertised. Ford has thought of that and added a setting that learns where the driver keeps its hand the most. Data is gathered from other sensors, and if the weather conditions allow it, it can pre-energize the “patches” so they can work at full capacity once a touch has been detected.
It’s not much, but it’s honest work!