Infiniti, Nissan’s luxury brand, has always been open about its plans to bring a luxury subcompact electric sedan to market some time before 2015. But now it has let slip that its first all-electric car will come with inductive charging just as the 2011 Tokyo Motor Show gets underway.
Using an induction pad on the bottom of the car, Infiniti owners will be able to charge their cars simply by parking in compatible wireless electric car charging bays, relegating the humble charging cable to situations when there are no inductive charging stations available.
According to Popular Mechanics, the Nissan-developed inductive charging system is between 80 and 90 percent efficient depending on how well aligned the car is in the charging bay.
While that might seem like a less energy efficient way to charge your car, Nissan engineers say the inductive system is about the same energy efficiency as more conventional wired charging solutions. This is because conventional electro-mechanical solutions suffer electrical losses between various components within the charging station as well as between the car and the charging cable.
Rolls Royce Phantom Experimental Electric 102EXEnlarge Photo
We’d expect the wireless inductive charging system to be of most use for situations where a cable charging system might be impossible, like a street-side parking spot or a public shopping mall where a cabled charging station might be subjected to vandalism. When Rolls-Royce built the102EX, its all-electric Rolls-Royce Phantom prototype, it envisaged wireless charging as a way to prevent its clientele from having to stoop so low as to have to actually plug in their car to refill it.
As with any new technology however, the wireless inductive charging system is expected to cost around 20 percent more than a comparable wired, conductive system.
There are no details at the moment on how Infiniti plans to price the inductive charging in its first electric car, but we’d expect it to be offered to customers in the same way that Nissan sold direct current rapid charging capability in the 2011 Nissan Leaf: as an option on higher specification models.
HaloIPT wireless chargingEnlarge Photo
Inductive charging opens the door on a whole range of new charging possibilities not possible with wired charging solutions, including the potential for electric car owners to recharge their cars on the move using specially-designed electric car charging lanes on the highway, or even long, non-stop electric car racing. But with conventional charging systems still under-supported in some areas, it may take a while before more costly inductive charging systems become widely adopted, although Toyota, BMW, and Volvo are all working to develop the technology.