Chevrolet has solved a problem that very few people outside of Death Valley, the Sahara Desert or Venus even knew existed: cell phones overheating in cars.

You’ve probably seen spy shots on these pages of camouflaged cars testing in the world’s hottest deserts and above the Arctic Circle. Apparently, Chevrolet quality assurance engineers were testing wireless charging functionality for cell phones in hotter climates when they noticed their phones would frequently overheat and shut down during wireless charging, which potentially stranded them in the desert like Jim Morrison searching for his spirit animal.

That last part probably never happened, but evidently, cell phone manufacturers don’t put their products through the same exhaustive temperature tests as car manufacturers do.

To rectify the issue, Chevy is introducing a new Active Phone Cooling system in a few new cars, including 2016 Chevrolet Impalas, 2016 Chevrolet Malibus, 2016 Chevrolet Volts and 2016 Chevrolet Cruzes equipped the with optional wireless charging feature. An air vent connected to the air conditioner is situated under the wireless charging bin and continuously sends cool air to lower the phone’s temperature.

“Innovation doesn’t mean reinventing the wheel,” Impala engineer Dan Lascu says of the system. “Sometimes simplicity offers the most elegant solution to a problem.”

Continue reading for the full story.

Why it matters

When I bought my 2003 Mini Cooper S, which I still own, one of the selling points was an air-conditioned glove box.

Have you ever been in a situation in which you needed your car to cool your phone?

It works similar to Chevy’s system and, at the time, Mini suggested that owners could keep sandwiches cool in their glove boxes during long drives.

Because I would have felt remiss if I hadn’t, I tried it once, but now the only things my glove box cools are my registration, a wheel-nut key and a pair of sunglasses I sat on four years ago. They’re cool, though.

My point is that car companies might be running out ideas for new features. Even cars costing under $25,000 have more features than $90,000 luxury cars had 10 years ago, and now car companies are just swinging in the dark at new features customers might want.

Or, maybe I’m completely off base with this assumption. So, I pose this question to you our readers: Have you ever been in a situation in which you needed your car to cool your phone?
And how about this one? What if you’re not running your A/C?

2016 Chevrolet Cruze

2016 Chevrolet Cruze High Resolution Exterior
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Read our full review here.

Press Release

While occasional smartphone overheating is normal, it can be disconcerting as it saps the phone’s battery life and slows processing speeds. Industry-first technology coming soon to some Chevrolet models can help cool down this problem.

Chevrolet Launches Active Phone Cooling - Wow! Interior Products
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Engineers regularly subject vehicles to the most extreme climates to ensure subsystems work properly. While testing a smartphone wireless charging feature, they noticed some smartphones would suspend charging or shut off altogether after only a few minutes in high temperatures inside a car’s cabin.

Most smartphones have built-in thermal protection features to protect battery life, but that protection – which can cause the phone to pause charging or turn off until it has cooled down – is inconvenient for customers on the road who rely on their smartphones for streaming music, navigation or receiving phone calls.

Chevrolet is addressing this with a system called Active Phone Cooling in several vehicles, including the 2016 Impala and Malibu equipped with available wireless charging. No other automotive manufacturer offers a similar solution for in-vehicle smartphone cooling.

An air vent connected directly to the car’s air conditioning and ventilation system is directed to the charging bin where the phone rests for wireless charging, sending cool air to help lower the phone’s temperature. Active Phone Cooling operates only when the HVAC system is turned on by the driver.

Chevrolet Launches Active Phone Cooling - Wow! Interior Products
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"Over time, regular overheating can do permanent damage to the lithium ion batteries that power our smartphones. I always recommend keeping your phone in a cool, ventilated place, where it can stay at a comfortable room temperature, whether it’s charging or discharging,” said Jeffrey Van Camp, deputy editor of Digital Trends.

Several factors can cause or worsen overheating in smartphones like heavy strain on the device’s data and graphics processors, high ambient temperatures or simply charging the device. The problem can be worse inside vehicles during hot weather. Heat is trapped inside a vehicle during hot days causing cabin temperatures to soar much higher than outside temperatures.

“Innovation doesn’t mean reinventing the wheel,” said Impala engineer Dan Lascu. “Sometimes simplicity offers the most elegant solution to a problem.”

After pairing their compatible phones with the available MyLink radio, Impala and Malibu customers can access phone features such as streaming music or making phone calls through steering wheel controls or voice commands.

Active Phone Cooling will also be available in the 2016 Chevrolet Volt and Cruze equipped with available wireless charging.

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