Tesla Model 3’s unique HVAC system explained in new patent

One of the first things that catch your attention in the Tesla Model 3 is its long and clean dash. It runs from one side to the other only encumbered by the cutouts for the steering wheel and the center touchscreen.

The clean minimalist look of the Model 3’s interior is mainly enabled by two things: Tesla dropping the instrument cluster and designing a new single ‘high aspect ratio’ vent.

In a new patent application released earlier this month, Tesla explained the thermal system designed for Model 3.

The inventors of the system wrote for the background that the design was driven by both a better air distribution and to be less “disruptive” to a “uniform design” of the interior:

“Traditional automotive vents have a low aspect ratio, meaning that their width is relatively similar to their height. For example, circular or rectangular vents are common. These vents are generally positioned flush with the surface of the instrument panel. However, these point-like outlets are not optimized for distributing the air over a wider area, which necessitates the use of multiple vents for each passenger. Also, the appearance of the vents may be unsightly and can disrupt an otherwise uniform design of the instrument panel or other interior surface.”

The patent describes a system with two intersecting planes of air for vertical control and lateral fins hidden within the dashboard for horizontal control and a clean look under a single air slot.

Here are a few drawings of the system in the patent application (patent in full further down):

They explain how they control the airflow using the two vents:

“The system can provide good control of the vertical position of the planar jet of air also when the vent is mounted in a non-flush position with regard to an instrument panel or other structure. This can be accomplished by a secondary outlet downstream of the main vent. For example, the secondary outlet can control the main air jet by feeding a low pressure zone that would otherwise keep the main jet attached to the instrument panel. As another example, the secondary outlet can push the main jet away from the structure, thereby adding momentum to it, in analogy with free air jets colliding.”

In order to control the system, Tesla designed a new AC user interface for the Model 3. Bill Lee, early Tesla investor and MOdel 3 owner, shared a quick look at it last month:

I only had a few seconds to play with it during my test drive, but as far as I could tell, it was really intuitive and responsive. I wouldn’t be surprised if a similar system makes its way into Tesla’s other vehicles. Maybe with a bigger air filter for the bio weapon defense mode? What do you think? Let us know in the comment section below.

Here’s the patent application in full:

[scribd id=359220547 key=key-iEWrZIED8iclmH8BtBJX mode=scroll]

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