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The evolution of automotive air conditioning

The evolution of automotive air conditioning

What’s the point of owning an expensive car if you can’t afford to keep it cool? Nobody wants their money thrown away on a broken AC system. Whether around 75% or 100%, all cars manufactured today have this important safety feature and it is pretty sure that most people would be grateful for not having any accidents because of overheating!

But when did air conditioning come standard in vehicles? Do you want to learn about some interesting early vehicle innovations with A/C? This is why we have crafted this post to give you a thorough knowledge about the first cars with air conditioning and other important historical details of auto air conditioning. Let’s delve into details!

Major evolution by Packard in 1939

Air conditioning is a much-needed device in today’s cars, but it wasn’t always so. In earlier days of motoring when vehicles were primarily open-bodied and manufacturers believed no special provisions were required for comfort cooling systems – come to the turn of this century with closed body designs around 1908.

This was the time where inventors started looking at ways they could develop an air conditioner that would work properly on these new type automobiles without any problems or failures, due to material limitations like those found with glass windows back then which often shattered if hit by sunlight during summer months making driving uncomfortable as well not just cool enough inside your vehicle.

So, when it is discussed about the first cars with air conditioning, we come to know that the first practical automotive AC unit was patented by Packard Motors Company in 1939 after many years’ worth of research into different types of refrigerants.

But it had some flaws and high maintenance costs. If someone wanted an AC system installed for themselves they would have to pay Bishop & Babcock Co., who handled installation work on these cars in exchange for a percentage of their profit margin from sales (which may explain why so few were actually bought).

The cooling system was located in the trunk, rather than on dashboards in this car. You have to manually install or remove belts from your A/C Compressor for turning it on and off– an option that costs $274 at a time when average earned incomes were only around $1k. This was short-lived because World War II started just after this option became available!

Despite of the proper marketing, the product couldn’t do well in the commercial sector because of its mechanical problems and the continuous service it required. So, the product got discontinued in 1941.

Further historical details about early air conditioning cars

Aftermarket A/C system became a popular option after World War II, with many independent manufacturers taking on the responsibility of fitting them into all makes and models. Although many cheaper cooling options existed like car coolers or swamp coolers which were powered through the lighter plug with water/ice & fan — they often didn’t work well because it was hard for them to reach comfortable levels inside your vehicle without being too loud

The option of car coolers could be found in some cars from major automakers like GM who offered A

C systems under their brand name Ricon or General Motors Company itself for around $400 less than what you would expect to spend if installing an OE alternative unit.

  • AC system by General Motors

The GM’s AC system was a life-changing invention that made the car industry take notice. Sales of air conditioners were on an upswing, and it didn’t stop there! By 1957 many more brands had followed suit with their own versions being released at regular intervals for decades afterward.

One such example would be Cadillac’s Control System which allowed you to change your vehicle temperature setting – what could have happened if this innovation came out 10 years earlier?

  • AC system in the front of cars

In 1954, Pontiac and Nash became the first two companies to fit their A/C systems in a front-mounted, rather than trunk mounted. This helped establish what most cars have followed since one system that controls both heating as well as cooling,

  • Comfort Control technology by Cadillac

When we talk about the first cars with air conditioning, how can we forget the technology introduced by Cadillac?

They introduced a new technology called Comfort Control, which allows drivers to set their preferred temperature and the system will automatically adjust airflow output for that setting. This innovation brought a great change in the auto air conditioning industry.

Impactful Developments During 1970s

In the 70s, people were becoming aware of how air conditioning was harming our environment. It brought down its popularity and many consumers chose not to have it in their cars. As we can still remember those sticky vinyl seats during hot summer days- even if you don’t own an AC car anymore.

There’s no need for concern just yet because this trend may be slowing down or has already come full circle now with some manufactures adding solar power systems into new models so all our worries will soon go away once again as well.

The discovery of CFCs being harmful to the ozone layer had been a huge problem for many people. With this new information, it looked as though car manufacturers would have no choice but accept an alternative and stop producing cars that use these chemicals in their products. So, they could protect themselves against lawsuits down line if someone had children who were born with cancer or other diseases because air conditioning units released toxic substances into our environment without even knowing about it!

The good news is we were able help them find ways on how best to manage those risks while still protecting ourselves by having clean air quality-we just need more awareness out there already!

The industry found an alternative in the form of R134a, which is environmentally friendly. However this refrigerant poses a serious threat to our earth’s ozone layer and should be handled with care because once it becomes scarce, there may not be enough substitutes for cars that use old-fashioned systems like chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), which are now banned due to environmental concerns around their destruction rate when entering Earth’s protective cover

When manufacturers were required by law from 1996 onwards to replace all substances containing Chlorine Free Alternatives, we didn’t need any other concern as long ago car engines already have been designed compatible.

With these alternative refrigerant and continuous improvements in technology and design, the automobile industry did not come across any bigger setback. And the car sales rates have also been steady for a number of year with almost every vehicle coming up with air conditioning already installed!

It is not just cars that emit air pollution. The debate over the harmful effects of refrigerant continues with many people hesitant to use motor vehicles because they may release pollutants into an environment where it’s too easy for these toxins to harm those around them, even if some measures exist in order reduce this issue like electric cars who have come about as a response but there still remain worries as well especially since technology has been able solve problems before now.


The air conditioning system was not a common feature in vehicles until the 60s. It took Europe longer to catch on, but now almost all new cars are equipped with this technology! With such detailed historical details, now you will have an ample knowledge about the evolution of auto air conditioning. What is your knowledge about first cars with air conditioning? Share with us in the comments below.

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