Heated seats have become an option in almost every manufacturer’s range available in the UK including the cheapest manufacturer Dacia, the first acclaimed vehicle with heated seats was the Saab 99 that was first released in 1972, the technology has come along in leaps and bounds and cars can now be fitted with massaging options, lumbar support and varying heat settings. This has resulted in every manufacturer has developed their own technology with many sharing similar features. The obvious premium brand including BMW, Audi and Mercedes offer a winter pack with all but their cheapest cars, while budget brands include them traditionally as an optional winter pack or standard with larger family cars. such as the Kia Sportage and the Toyota RAV4.
In addition to heating, some vehicles also offer ventilated cooling, with only a few Manufacturer’s offering the option for cooled seats often in partnership with a heating element, the first company to offer ventilated seats was once again Saab between 2000 and 2007 it was possible to get a Saab 9-5 with the option. Although the way in which the seat or in this case the person in the seats were cooled has dramatically changed. Originally in the 9-5 the seats had too flat induction fans one positioned in the bottom and one between the shoulder blades of the driver, the induction fans would intake warm or hot air trapped between the driver and the seat and distribute the warm air below the seat, although this method was effective for it’s time the noise produced by the fans regardless of speed setting was so loud, technology developed to systems seen in the Land Rover Range Rover Sport, higher trim levels come with front seats that have both heating and cooling along with massage features. The seats cool by gently circulating air through the perforated leather and along the centre back and lower seat. Other manufacturers and models that offer cooling seats include Ford with the top end Mondeo, Mustang and Edge and Mini in the Cooper S.
Originally Mercedes-Benz offered lumbar support in their first cars back in 1886, and adjustable multi-position support became a common feature particularly on driver seats and eventually on passenger seats too. In 2000 Mercedes-Benz introduced massaging seats on the S-Class range, with prices ranging between £41,000 and £120,000 when new, the seats had a pulse and varying needing arms that would help the driver and passenger relax on long journeys. Massaging seats are still considered a luxury with more and more manufacturers offering them on mid to high-end models in their range such as Peugeot and the 3008 while manufacturers such as Mercedes and BMW still have some of the best massage seats. Changes from needing arms to gently inflating cushions and air pockets to give the most relaxing experience without distracting the driver.
There have been plenty of changes made to the technology used in cars seats and with modern trends such as speakers in the headrest for personalised sound. Airbag and safety technology to surround the occupant. All of which are on prototypes and high-end models likely to filter down to every day run around from Skoda, Volkswagen and Vauxhall.