John Goreham's picture

Wireless Prius charging makes conventional EVs seem old fashioned

Why plug in a car when one can simply park and walk away? In a few years we will look back on plug-in electric cars and think they are quaint.

It has always amazed me that people are content to argue over electric vehicle (EV) charger standards and complain about lack of EV charging spots. What a hassle. Why not charge wirelessly at stop signs, public parking spaces, and at home? Ultimately we will have embedded coils in the streets and our hybrid electric cars will trickle charge as we drive along, but the first step is to charge while parked. Toyota is the latest to demonstrate wireless “plug-in” hybrid charging. What makes Toyota’s move in this direction different is that Toyota has a long history of getting things done, rather than creating vapor ware, and Toyota’s Prius Plug-in is ideally suited to the slow charging capability of wireless.

Toyota starts verification testing this coming week. As the video shows the EV owner simply approaches the wireless charging spot and then backs in. In fact, the car does the parking. No cables to connect and disconnect and no fuss. Just park and walk away.

Toyota does have 2 fully electric vehicles. It partnered with Tesla to create the RAV 4 EV, but it is not widely sold. The Scion iQ EV is even rarer. Toyota is really just keeping up with the industry doing these cars. To this long-time fan of the brand it seems obvious Toyota is more interested in hybrid cars and “plug-in” hybrids. The Prius outsells the entire EV world combined each month by a factor of about 4 to 1 in the US and globally Toyota leads in green car production.

In the US the Prius Plug-in hybrid is usually the fourth leading seller among all electrified cars. Some months it is closer to number one. That is important to this story because pure EVs have very large battery capacities, and to charge them to a full state one must either provide a huge current or wait a long time. Prius Plug-ins charge to full in a few hours using standard 115 volt amperage. So trickle charging them with a wireless coil is a lot more feasible than trying to fill a Tesla’s battery from empty to full using such technology. For cars that use the smaller batteries to augment their hybrid drive systems this method could be a real winner.

You might also find interesting:
As EV sales hit the wall, Toyota's green hybrids dominate the global market
Toyota's 3 most surprising green car achievements of 2013 and Prius isn't included

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