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ultimate block heater

with all the discussion of block heaters thought some listers would like 
to hear about the ultimate solution.  its available in Germany (or was 5 
years ago), but its quite expensive, about $1500 per car.

the solution is a system that uses fuel (i.e., there are gas and diesel 
versions) to heat coolant.  the system is programmable to come on at a 
desired time. at a preprogrammed set point (not user adjustable, i 
think), it circulated coolant and could turn on the climate control 
(don't know how this would be installed on a car with electronic climate 
controls, but remember that a/c is exotic in Germany). this system 
provides the dual benefit of a warm engine and interior (with defrosted 
glass). obviously, there were numerous safety sensors to shut off fuel if 
there was no combustion or if temperatures got too high.

I saw several brochures for competing systems when i was in Germany and one 
of my colleagues 
had one of these systems installed in his vw transporter synchro 
passenger van.  apparently, this was a popular option for some heavy 
tractor trailer trucks, particularly the ones with a sleeping berth in 
the cab.

just for curiousity, has anyone seen something like this in north america?

 Jason Douglas
Networking and Communications Systems
MITRE Corporation