Toyota had previously announced that it was testing Massachusetts-based WiTriCity’s wireless charging system on the Prius Plug-In, and those tests apparently went well. Plug-In Cars reports that the WiTriCity wireless charging system will be offered as an option on the next Toyota Prius Plug-In, due out in the fall of 2016.
The system is based off of technology developed down the street at MIT by Marin Soljačić, and what seems to have courted Toyota is the concept of “positional freedom.” Basically, the car and charging pad don’t need to be precisely aligned to deliver a charge, as they are in many other systems. This means drivers are free from annoying repositioning of the car in order to ensure it gets juiced up. RIght now charging is limited to just 3.3 kw, but should be up to 6.6 kw by next year, before it goes on sale in the new Prius Plug-In. Wireless charging is a huge boon for EV and plug-in hybrid owners, as it totally eliminates the plugging-in part.
It makes sense that Toyota would pursue wireless charging with the next Prius Plug-In, as reports are painting a picture of a more high-tech hybrid than the current car. Wireless charging is likely to be just one piece of the puzzle, as Toyota is finding it more and more difficult to improve fuel economy due to diminishing returns on engine and aerodynamic efficiency. As far as my wishlist for the Prius Plug-In goes, more operational range would be nice, and would probably boost sales as the competition is eating away at the hybrid’s annual sales lead.
Make no mistake, the Prius is still top dog, and by making if techier, Toyota is only broadening its appeal. 2016 is supposedly the year wireless charging goes mainstream, and it could make the growing number of EV charging stations obsolete in short order. Or it could be a nifty feature that works better in theory than in practice.
Will your next EV have wireless charging capabilities?