Toyota Joins Wireless Electric Car Charging Revolution

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Inductive Power Transmission Diagram

Inductive Power Transmission Diagram

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This year we’ve seen a dramatic increase in the number of companies working towards detaching the electric car from its charging cable.  Now Toyota, the world’s largest automaker, has joined the inductive charging revolution with a substantial undisclosed investment in WiTricity, specialists in wireless charging. 

WiTricity’s current technology is comparable to standard Level 2 fast charge technology, providing up to 3.3 kilowatts of power. This makes it ideal for providing a way of charging plug-in vehicles without wires where in places where wired technology may present a trip hazard such as shopping mall parking lots, for example.  

WiTricity’s technology makes use of a technique it calls resonance wireless charging. 

Instead of inducing a magnetic field in a receiver coil in the same way a traditional electrical transformer works, resonance inductive coupling works by using two coils which vibrate at the exact same frequency. 

When a specific frequency of oscillating current is applied to force the primary coil to vibrate, an oscillating magnetic field of specific frequency is produced, inducing a matching current in the secondary coil as it vibrates sympathetically with the first. 

This allows energy to be transferred between two points with very high efficiency without any physical contact between the two coils. 

Used primarily in devices like the Powermat to wirelessly charge portable electronics devices, the technology also prevents inadvertent exposure to unintended electromagnetic radiation causing harm. reducing risk to computer components, credit cards and humans. 

Toyota’s investment in WiTricity is as yet not fully disclosed, although we expect the partnership to help Toyota develop wireless charging systems for its range of up-coming plug-in vehicles, including future versions of the Plug-in Prius, the all-electric RAV4 EV and   possible electrification of its city car, the iQ. 

[Toyota, WiTricity]

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Comments (7)
  1. I kind of like the wireless charging idea, I've often wondered what I'd do if I couldn't get the cord to reach the charging port on the car. But my only question is, could interference cause your car to receive lesser charge? Because the end that sends power to your car will be sitting out doors, could dirt and road grime build up and interfere with charging? Wireless chargers may require more maintenance to be kept clean to keep efficiency up. And then there is heavy rain and thunder storms. No I'm not stupidly thinking of that I could get electrocuted, but could a wet charging pad not send power properly? Though I'm sure the people developing the technology are doing all their r&d so my question will be answered in time.

  2. Good news, thanks

  3. @cdspeed: The whole point of the J1772 standard is that it makes the connector safe. It is not activated until it is connected and communicating with the EV. It provides GFI as well. So if you use the standard charging plug that all new electric cars use, then you are safe. However, if you own a Tesla and like to use KOA RV plugs, then yes you can expose yourself to shock hazard.

  4. @ Eletruk ??? What are you talking about? I was talking about possible interference not electric shock. The article is on wireless charging I said nothing about J1772 chargers. Did you even read the article???? And did you really read my comment? I said I wasn't worried about getting shocked in a rain storm I wondered if the charging pad was wet would it have an affect on wireless charging. WAKE UP!!!

  5. @cdspeed A short answer is no. Inductive charging relies on magnetic fields rather than standard radio waves. The easiest way to explain it is that you take a large coil and energize it with electricity. That gives off a magnetic field. Take another coil that's tuned the same as the energized one, then place it within that magnetic field. It will then produce current by converting the magnetic field back into electricity. Magnetic fields are not as susceptible to interference as radio is. This is not to say that nothing will affect it, but the vast majority of things will not.

  6. Thanks for the info Daryl.

  7. Some rather snippy commentary at the top. I'm actually pretty excited about the idea of wireless charging. Think it's a great step in the right direction and would love to learn more about it.
    Nikki - thanks for the article, while I had heard some rumors that companies were experimenting with wireless charging, did actually know that any of the auto makers were making the investment.

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