In vehicles that are parked, no ventilation and/or air conditioning takes place. If a vehicle is exposed to direct solar radiation, an immediate temperature rise occurs. The high cabin air temperature can threaten children and animals that are left unattended in vehicles. In the USA, lethal heat strokes cause a mean death rate of 37 children per year. In addition, temperature-sensitive goods (e.g. drugs in ambulances and veterinary vehicles) can be adversely affected by high temperatures. To calculate the rise of the cabin air temperature, a dynamic model was developed that is driven by only three parameters, available at standard meteorological stations: air temperature, global radiation and wind velocity. The transition from the initial temperature to the constant equilibrium temperature depends strongly on the configuration of the vehicle, more specifically on insulation, window area and transmission of the glass, as well as on the meteorological conditions. The comparison of the model with empirical data showed good agreement. The model output can be applied to assess the heat load of children and animals as well as temperature-sensitive goods, which are transported and/or stored in a vehicle.