Automobile air conditioning systems cool the occupants of a vehicle in hot weather, and have come into wide use from the late twentieth century. Air conditioners use significant power; on the other hand the drag of a car with closed windows is less than if the windows are open to cool the occupants evaporatively. There has been much debate on the effect of air conditioning on the fuel efficiency of a vehicle. Factors such as wind resistance, aerodynamics and engine power and weight have to be factored into finding the true variance between using the air conditioning system and not using it when estimating the in actual fuel mileage. Other factors on the impact on the engine and an overall engine heat increase can have an impact on the cooling system of the vehicle.

1953 Imperial 2-tone with AC vents

1953 Chrysler Imperial with factory trunk mounted "Airtemp"

A company in New York City in the United States, first offered installation of air conditioning for cars in 1933. Most of their customers operated limousines and luxury cars.[1]

The Packard Motor Car Company was the first automobile manufacturer to build air conditioners into its cars, beginning in 1939.[2] These air conditioners were optional, and cost US$274 (equivalent to about US$4,000 in 2007).[3] The system took up half of the entire trunk space, was not very efficient, and had no thermostat or independent shut-off mechanism.[4] The option was discontinued after 1941.[5] In 1953 Chrysler Corporation offered air conditioning in their luxury Imperial model as a factory-installed option.

In 1954 the Nash Ambassador was the first American automobile to have a front-end, fully integrated heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning system.[6][7] The Nash-Kelvinator corporation used its experience in refrigeration to introduce the automobile industry's first compact and affordable, single-unit heating and air conditioning system optional for its 1954 Nash models.[8][9] This was the second system for the mass market with controls on the dash and an electric clutch, the first being the 1954 Pontiac Starchief, which was introduced in December of 1953, while the Nash system did not come out until after the May of 1954 forming of American Motors.[10] Marketed under the name of "All-Weather Eye", the Nash system was described as "a good and remarkably inexpensive" system.[11] Entirely incorporated within the engine bay, the combined heating and cooling system had cold air for passengers enter through dash-mounted vents.[9] Nash's exclusive "remarkable advance" was not only the "sophisticated" unified system, but also its $345 price that beat all other systems.[12]

Most competing systems used a separate heating system and an engine-mounted compressor, driven off of the crankshaft of the engine via a belt, with an evaporator in the car's trunk to deliver cold air through the rear parcel shelf and overhead vents. General Motors made a front mounted air conditioning system optional in 1954 on Pontiacs with a straight-eight engine that added separate controls and air distribution. The alternative layout pioneered by Nash "became established practice and continues to form the basis of the modern and more sophisticated automatic climate control systems."[13]

The innovation was adopted quickly, and by 1960 about 20% of all cars in the U.S. had air-conditioning, with the percentage increasing to 80% in the warm areas of the Southwest.[14] American Motors made air conditioning standard equipment on all AMC Ambassadors starting with the 1968 model year, a first[15] in the mass market with a base price starting at $2,671.[16] By 1969, 54% of the domestic automobiles were equipped with air conditioning, with the feature needed not only for passenger comfort, but also to increase the car's resale value.[3]

It is claimed that a new type of air-conditioning, called TIFFE, for automobiles that operates similar to a refrigerator will come into production in 2015.[clarification needed] It is said to reduce gasoline consumption by 15%.[17]

See alsoEdit


  1. "First Air Conditioned Auto" Popular Science, November 1933
  2. Michigan Fast Facts and Trivia, retrieved on 2009-08-29.
  3. 3.0 3.1 "Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Timeline", National Academy of Engineering. Retrieved 2009-08-29.
  4. "Air Conditioning and Refrigeration History – part 4", National Academy of Engineering. Retrieved 2009-08-29.
  5. Alder, Dennis (2004). Packard. MBI Publishing Company, 76. ISBN 978-0-7603-1928-4. 
  7. The Great Lakelands (Lake Valley, Inc) 6: 32. 1956. 
  8. (1987) The Standard Catalog of American Cars 1946–1975. Krause Publications, 176. ISBN 978-0-87341-096-0. 
  9. 9.0 9.1 Binder, Al; the Ward's staff (2001-02-01), "Rearview Mirror", Ward's AutoWorld, Retrieved on <time class="dtstart" datetime="2010-08-09">2010-08-09</time>. 
  10. Daly, Steven (2006). Automotive Air-Conditioning and Climate Control Systems. Elsevier Science & Technology Books, 2. ISBN 978-0-7506-6955-9. 
  11. Stevenson, Heon J. (2008). American Automobile Advertising, 1930–1980: An Illustrated History. McFarland & Company, 177. ISBN 978-0-7864-3685-9. 
  12. Auto Editors of Consumer Guide (2007-11-29). "1953–1955 Nash and Hudson Ramblers". Retrieved on 2010-08-09.
  13. Nunney, Malcolm J. (2006). Light and Heavy Vehicle Technology. Elsevier Science & Technology Books, 147. ISBN 978-0-7506-8037-0. 
  14. Nash, Gerald D. (1999). Federal Landscape: An Economic History of the Twentieth-Century West. University of Arizona Press, 224. ISBN 978-0-8165-1863-0. 
  15. Ward's automotive yearbook (Ward's Communications Inc.) 31: 116. 1969. 
  16. "U.S. Business: Shuffle & Cut", Time. October 6,,8816,844040,00.html. Retrieved on <time class="dtstart" datetime="2010-08-09">2010-08-09</time>. 
  17. "TIFFE".

External linksEdit

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