Exclusive: In 2016, Toyota to Offer Wireless Charging on Next-Gen Prius Plug In

By · July 03, 2014

The next generation of the Toyota Prius Plug In, due in the fall of 2016, will have the option of wireless charging using technology from Massachusetts-based WiTricity, said a spokesman for that company. The Toyota Plug In is currently the second best-selling plug-in car in the U.S., with sales of 9,300 so far this year (behind only the Nissan LEAF).

Toyota Prius Plug In

The next-generation Toyota Prius Plug In, coming in 2016, will have wireless charging technology from WiTricity. (Toyota photo)

WiTricity specializes in magnetic resonance charging, both for cars and for consumer devices. It’s working with other automakers, including Nissan (on the forthcoming Infiniti LE, which will also have the company’s wireless charging), BMW and Honda (which recently said it will commercialize the system, also in 2016).

Two Big Reasons

Developed from technology pioneered by MIT scientist Marin Soljačić, the chargers have the benefit for automakers of “positional freedom"—not needing precise alignment (as standard inductive chargers do)—and permitting receivers and transmitters of different sizes.

According to Kaynam Hedayat, vice president of product management and marketing at WiTricity, the latter is very important for carmakers because a smaller receiver mounted under the vehicle will weigh less and not take up valuable real estate. Postional freedom is important, too, because car owners won’t need surgical precision in aligning the car with the pad on the garage floor.

Hedayat said its current car chargers operate at 3.3 kilowatts, but 6.6 will be available (at 90 percent efficiency) early next year—presumably in time for the Toyota. Asked what the price might be for consumers, he guessed the cost to automakers at around $1,000, maybe less. “I don’t know what Toyota’s will sell it for,” he said.

Alex Gruzen, WiTricity's CEO, said in an interview that 2016 is likely to be the year that wireless charging for cars sees widespread adoption. "If we can bring ease of use and convenience to the user experience, that will accelerate the adoption," he said. "The goal is to make ownership simple and pleasurable."

In Testing Now

Jana Hartline, an environmental spokeswoman for Toyota, acknowledged an ongoing partnership with WiTricity. She added via email, “I cannot comment on wireless charging options for MY16 PHV,” but a Toyota document dated February she attached confirmed that the company is working on “verification testing” of an unnamed magnetic resonance wireless system with Prius plug-in hybrids, three of which will be used in a one-year test in homes in Aichi Prefacture. Commercialization, the report said, is “the ultimate aim” of the Japanese test.

Hartline said that working with OEMs has given WiTricity “a depth of knowledge,” and that avoiding the need for precise alignment “could be the key wireless charging enabler for the general customer.”

Honda Wireless Charging

Honda said it expects to commercialize WiTricity's wireless charging system by 2016. (Honda photo)

Honda in 2016, Too

On June 16, Honda showed off WiTricity-based wireless charging of a Fit EV at its Smart House in Saitama, Japan. According to Honda, “The wireless charging system transmits electromagnetic waves from the power transmission coil installed on the floor of a garage to the power reception coil installed under the floor of the EV. The company expects to commercialize the system in 2016.”

BMW has been quieter about its work with WiTricity. "I'm sorry, I don't have any information on wireless charging," said spokesman Julian Arguelles. Another new partner, TDK (yes, the cassette guys) has been looking at the possibility of embedding Witricity-based magnetic charging into roadways. "Delphi also came, looked at our technology, and took a license," Gruzen said. "We're proud of our global name brand."


· · 3 years ago

10% addtional loss for convinence....

· · 3 years ago

I've said it before, and I'll say it again. I'm sure there will be a market for this, but it won't be in my garage. I still haven't figured out where the market will be - hopefully witricity has a good idea...

"embedding Witricity-based magnetic charging into roadways"
This part is interesting. Does it imply charging on the move? Or by "roadways" do they really mean "parking lots"? At 6.6kW, this does not provide enough power to sustain more than maybe 40mph...

Finally, a note on Honda. This is a strong indication that Honda has something up their sleeves for after the FitEV is discontinued (other than Fuel Cells). I'm sure it will be another demonstration project of limited scope, but I wouldn't count them out of the long-term EV market just yet.

· · 3 years ago

Installing the wireless power sources in the roadway where cars are stopped for traffic signals makes the most sense. Transmitting power at highway speed is probably not practical.

· · 3 years ago

@Mike I,

How long are cars stopped at a traffic light? If you are stopped for 5 minutes, that is a LONG time. Yet at 6.6kW, that is only 0.55 kWh. That would take a typical EV maybe 2 miles. So in your typical city driving, this might just barely provide enough energy to sustain a very tedious stop-and-go drive through the city. But EVs are so efficient at low speeds anyway, that what's the point? I really don't see the application of this technology "in the roadways".

· · 3 years ago

Bus/shuttle stops. Airport taxi and shuttle areas?

· · 3 years ago

I see that the city of Palo Alto has made it mandatory that all new apartment buildings be equipped with chargers.

But, that's child's play. The thing that will really revolutionize the EV movement is Inductive Charging.

It gets rid of all the cords and chargers can be placed virtually everywhere, including, Costco. your favorite Italian restaurant, your office parking space, the movie theater and so on.

When you park over an inductive charger, your car sends a signal saying either "I'm OK" or "Socket to me" to the charger. What follows is strictly XXX rated.

No more fumbling with cords in sub-zero weather. Nonsense !!

Go anywhere and still charge while you eat, get a haircut, shop at the mall, etc.

Go home with a nearly charged vehicle after a day out on the town.

Then park over the inductive charger in your garage. No cords. No fuss. No muss.

Leave in the morning with a fully charged car.

Just about eliminates range anxiety, don't you think. All this without any battery improvements at all.

And you never have to plug in or stop at a charging station or a gas station or (heaven forbid) a hydrogen station ever again as long as you live.


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· · 3 years ago

I agree with many posters here - this is a solution in search of a problem. When will compatible wireless systems be available, and where will they be installed? If you only have one at home, then you lose a significant amount of electricity for about 9 seconds of "work".

These cannot be used outside here in New England (where Witricity is located) because a snow plow will take this out in a second.

I find it curious that Toyota and Honda are introducing this - when they don't actually sell EV's. The Plugin Prius has such a tiny pack that spending the effort to carry the onboard side of this system seems rather silly.

Aligning the coils is possibly important to the efficiency. Aren't you going to spend as much (or more?) time carefully parking, than you would just plugging in?

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