Chicago Automobile Trade Association

Wireless phone charging next big thing for cars

September 13, 2013
Wireless smartphone charging in your car may soon be as common as touchscreens and voice-activated technology.
Powermat Technologies Ltd. will offer wireless smartphone charging on some 2014 General Motors Co. vehicles, Ran Poliakine, CEO of the Israeli-based firm, said in an interview with Bloomberg News.
GM is an investor in Powermat — it has a $5 million stake — and the automaker joins a handful of other automakers racing to add the technology inside vehicles.
Toyota Motor Corp. offers wireless charging, supplied by supplier DENSO Corp., in its Avalon Limited midsize sedan. Chrysler Group LLC offers wireless phone charging on its Dart Mopar-edition compact car and will offer the technology as a factory option on its 2014 Jeep Cherokee.
GM had previously said the technology could be used in vehicles by 2012. The Detroit automaker also said the Chevrolet Volt range-extended plug-in hybrid would be one of the first vehicles to get the technology, though a spokeswoman this month declined to discuss specific vehicle plans.
To charge a smartphone in today’s vehicles, a consumer must use a cord to draw energy from either a USB port or by a phone charger . But for those future vehicles equipped with a Powermat electromagnetic charging mat, a consumer needs only to place their cellphone on the surface to charge.
Phones and other electronic devices must be capable of wireless recharging. Consumer also can buy cellphone cases that allow for wireless recharging.
Other major companies from other industries, such as Starbucks, Duracell and AT&T, have already adopted Powermat’s wireless charging platform.
Consulting and data firm IHS Inc. projects that global shipments of wireless charging devices will rise to almost 100 million by 2015 compared to 5 million units last year.
Wireless smartphone charging is the latest in a series of in-car upgrades that automakers have added or plan to add to better connect consumers with devices generally used outside vehicles. Other examples include touchscreens and voice-activated systems that allow drivers to use their cellphones without taking their hands off the steering wheel.
Several industry groups are promoting different standards for wireless charging, according to Bloomberg News research: Power Matters Alliance, which includes Powermat, BlackBerry and AT&T Inc.; Wireless Power Consortium, with Nokia Oyj, Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. and Verizon Wireless; and Alliance for Wireless Power, whose supporters include HTC Corp., Intel Corp. and Qualcomm Inc. Some companies joined multiple associations.


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