Mitsubishi Corporation is investing in WiTricity, a company that sells wireless-charging systems for plug-in cars, WiTricity announced in a press release Thursday.
The specific amount invested by Mitsubishi was not disclosed, but it was part of a recently-closed $34 million investment round, and was made through the Japanese corporate giant's United States subsidiary.
Mitsubishi Corporation is the parent company of the automaker of the same name, and is involved in several other industries. In addition to possible automotive uses, Mitsubishi's Urban Development Group is interested in wireless charging for possible "smart cities" applications.
"WiTricity's wireless charging is essential for realizing next-generation urban city and infrastructure services that capture the shift to EV/autonomous driving," Mitsumasa Icho, head of the Urban Development Group, said in a statement.
Wireless charging in parking building - WiTricity
Wireless charging, which uses a magnetic field to transfer current between a grid-connected pad on the ground and a receiving pad mounted on the car, was been slow to take off commercially, but WiTricity has emerged as the main player.
After it bought Qualcomm's wireless-charging patents in 2019, WiTricity said it held more than 1,000 patents worldwide related to the technology.
The BMW 530e plug-in hybrid was the first production vehicle from any automaker in the U.S. market to include a wireless charging pad—with WiTricity tech. The company said the McLaren Speedtail supercar also uses its technology, but the Speedtail is an extremely low-volume vehicle.
The current-generation Mercedes-Benz S-Class plug-in hybrid was supposed to offer wireless charging—including in the U.S.—but Mercedes retracted the idea.
2020 Mitsubishi Outlander Plug-In Hybrid
Nissan—which bought a 34% stake in Mitsubishi's automotive division in 2016—has also been readying a wireless-charging system demonstrated at several points in the Nissan Leaf electric car. Perhaps it will arrive in the Ariya electric crossover.
Mitsubishi's only plug-in vehicle for the U.S. is the Outlander Plug-In Hybrid, a model that's due to get more electric range later this year before a full redesign in 2022. It withdrew the all-electric i-MiEV from the U.S. market in 2017, and will soon end that model's global production.