Toyota has begun testing a wireless charging system for their hybrid and electric cars. The system can charge cars by having them park on top of a charging station. The charging system uses magnetic-resonance technology, which is a method that “transmits electricity by using magnetic resonance that results from changes in magnetic field intensity between a coil positioned on the ground under the car and a receiving coil built into the underside of the vehicle.” Toyota is not testing this in a normal, controlled lab environment. Instead they are modifying three of their Priuses and giving them to three of their customers in Japan. The customers will test the cars out for a year and report back to Toyota on their satisfaction.
Toyota is also testing out a self-park system on the cars to help the driver properly align the vehicle’s battery in the correct spot on the charging station.
All of this seems to be aimed at increasing the convenience for Toyota’s customers. Toyota says, “This technology would eliminate the need for physically plugging in an electric car or a hybrid. It also has the potential to act as a universal charging station, reducing the need for multiple charging stations and plug standards.”
The wireless charging technology itself should be ready in a couple of years, but it will take a while for the infrastructure to catch up. It will take a while for convenience store owners, office buildings, and other commercial property owners to install these charging stations. I could see this making electric cars more popular when this happens, simply because they would be so convenient. If your car could charge while you are at work, shopping, etc. then you would hardly ever have to worry about running out of battery. The article says that Volvo is also working on a similar charging system, but they are not sure which company is further along in their development.