There are lots of great things about winter, but clearing your windshield of snow and ice isn’t one of those things. It takes extra time in the morning, and it’s not efficient with at least one stubborn spot that will not come free. It’s usually just out of reach and definitely a distraction when you drive. Volkswagen is solving the problem with silver.
You might think this problem has already been solved with heated windows. Those are nothing new, but they’re imperfect. Heating your windows requires a filament embedded in the glass. This works wonderfully, but you can see those filaments. Even the finest metal wires become visible in the right light and that’s a potentially dangerous problem.
Volkswagen’s solution eliminates those distracting wires by using a wafer-thin layer of silver that needs only 400 to 500 watts to heat up. This conductive layer of metal within the laminated glass provides enough heat to warm up the windshield, melt ice, and keep the windshield from misting up when you drive during winter.
In addition to the layer of silver throughout the windshield, this climate windshield has filaments that heat the wipers to keep them from freezing to the glass. This technology isn’t something that’s in testing as a prototype, but a real-world product that is available as an option for $360 in select vehicles.
The usefulness of the feature isn’t limited to only the colder months of the year. Volkswagen says that it also acts as a heat shield during the summer months. It can reflect up to 60 percent of summer heat and reduce the interior temperature of your car by as much as 15 degrees more than traditional glass with green tinting. That’s not going to replace your air conditioner, but it will help reduce the time it takes to make the interior of your car more comfortable on those blistering summer days.
This layer of silver sounds promising, but there are a few details missing from Volkswagen’s press release. It doesn’t say how long it takes to heat up and do the job, nor does it say how much ice it’s able to effectively handle.
It would be nice to think you could turn on your car and have the windshield nicely melted by the time you finished scraping the rest of your windows. And that’s the other part of the problem. This only takes care of the windshield. It’s not available on your rear window or side windows, so you’ll still be stuck outside in the snow, trusty scraper in hand.