Toyota has started testing a wireless electric car charging station that the automaker claims can fully recharge a Prius Plug-in in about 90 minutes. While hardly lightning fast, the convenience of wireless electric charging could give electrified vehicles another distinct advantage over combustion engines.
The trial will utilize three Toyota Prius Plug-in hybrids equipped with WiTricity wireless magnetic-resonance recharging technology. Toyota invested in the MIT-spin-off company last year in a bid to bolster its technology portfolio. Rugged charging pads can be placed in just about any parking spot, and any compatible car parked over the pad will begin charging immediately, taking the plug out of the Prius Plug-in. A 2 kW receiver allows the 4.4 kWh battery pack to be recharged in as little as 90 minutes.
A Tesla Supercharger, in comparison, can fill up the 85 kWh battery pack of the Model S in under an hour…but you still have to plug it in. Wireless charging technology should eventually be able to match, or even exceed that level of charging, such is the case with South Korea’s all-electric buses, all without a physical connection.
Combined with self-parking technology that places the Prius in the right spot for maximum recharging efficiency, wireless recharging could be a cornerstone of the next-generation Toyota Prius. This would make the next Prius as much a hybrid as a cutting-edge, high-tech car, giving customers another reason to choose it over an ever-increasing field of competitors.
The test will begin later this month in the Aichi Prefecture of Japan, and Toyota plans to introduce the technology on near-future models.