Toyota Motor Corp. is a step closer to offering wireless charging for its electrified vehicles.
The Japanese automaker has signed an agreement to license the intellectual property of WiTricity Corp., a company specializing in wireless power transfer. WiTricity, of Watertown, Mass., was founded in 2007 to commercialize a wireless charging system developed by Massachusetts Institute of Technology physicists.
Instead of plugging in vehicles, drivers need only to park over small -- 19.7 inches by 19.7 inches -- magnetic resonance charging pads that can sit above ground, or be embedded in parking surfaces. Another resonator, about 8 inches by 8 inches, is attached under the vehicle.
WiTricity CEO Eric Giler said the system is appealing because the resonator on the vehicle can be built “extremely small” and fitted into whatever space is available.
He predicts that 2016 model vehicles will be the first to have wireless charging components installed.
Early on, “wireless charging systems will be oriented towards residential use, but ultimately it goes into parking garages, places of business and that sort of thing,” Giler said in an interview.
Toyota made an equity investment in the company in 2011 to speed the development of WiTricity’s magnetic units. WiTricity says it will license third-party suppliers to build the charging systems.
WiTricity also has licensed the technology to supplier Delphi, as well as to Audi and Mitsubishi. The company has raised nearly $50 million in capital.
Giler said, “With the Toyota being the largest in the world, I think a lot of the other car companies will follow suit.”