Volkswagen to Heat Windshields with Invisible Silver Defrosters

Thanks to technology, VW cars will soon offer a windshield with unseen, built-in heating elements—that also helps keep the car cool in summer.

byWill Sabel Courtney|
Volkswagen News photo

If you've spent your entire driving life in cold climates, odds are good you've spent too much time struggling with feeble window scrapers and attempting to peer through palm-sized clear spots thawed out by ineffectual defroster vents. Well, you may not have to much longer—at least, if your next car is a Volkswagen, as the carmaker has created a new type of heated windshield.

The idea of a windscreen with a built-in heater isn't new; several automakers, including Jaguar Land Rover and Volvo, already offer heated windshields that use thin wires to conduct electricity (and thus heat) through the front window. Those wires, however, can prove distracting to the vehicle's occupants, especially when light hits them at a low angle. 

VW's solution, on the other hand, is entirely invisible, according to the carmaker. By embedding a "wafer-thin" layer of silver within the laminated glass and running a current through it, the windshield is heated from within, hastening the transition of any irritating ice into friendly liquid water. The system even includes a secondary element mounted at the bottom of the windscreen, designed to help thaw out icy wipers faster. 

The advantages of the silver windshield aren't restricted to the cold months, though. The invisible layer also reflects up to 60 percent of infrared radiation that would otherwise stream into the car, which can reduce the temperature inside by as much as 60 degrees Fahrenheit during the warmer months. 

Volkswagen says the new heated windshield will be available on six models, starting at €340 (roughly $365 at current exchange rates). Which sounds, to us, like the bargain of the year...or at least the winter.