It’s impossible not to look at a new feature from Volkswagen with a skeptical eye after Dieselgate, but we’re hoping the company’s new climate windshield, that can melt snow and ice without the need for distracting wires, delivers as promised—because the winter sucks if you own a car.
Self-heating windows have existed for decades. However, they’ve have always relied on near-invisible wires that can be a distraction when revealed by oncoming headlights. So instead of wires, the laminated glass used in Volkswagen’s new windshields includes an ultra-thin invisible layer of silver connected to the vehicle’s electrical system so that it heats up and melts away ice.
Volkswagen hasn’t shared any specifics on how fast the windshield heats up, whether or not it gets hot enough to quickly melt away a thick layer of snow and ice, or if you’ve still got some additional scraping to do. But it apparently includes additional filaments at the bottom of the windshield to also heat the wipers so they don’t remain frozen to the glass, and can help with clearing away the white stuff.
The $360 optional upgrade doesn’t just make winters easier, Volkswagen promises. The invisible layer of silver in the new climate windshield can also reflect up to 60 percent of the sun’s rays in the summer, which Volkswagen says will keep a car around 15 degrees cooler compared to more traditional window tinting techniques. But that doesn’t take into account the sunlight and heat pouring in from the vehicle’s other silver-less windows. We’re optimistic the new feature will make winters less of a chore, but we won’t be tearing out our car’s air conditioners anytime soon.