At the Tokyo Motor Show today, Nissan unveiled a wireless charging system for the Leaf that it says will be available starting with the 2013 model. So far, Nissan is the only EV maker to announce wireless charging capability for a production vehicle.
Electromagnetic induction charging, which doesn’t require physical contact, is shaping up as the wave of the future for EVs. Toothbrushes and a few cell phones can already do it, Rolls-Royce has built a prototype car that does it, and researchers are working on systems that will allow cars to do it while rolling down the road.
Nissan’s system uses a flat pad that can be installed in a garage or parking lot. The device automatically detects the presence of a car, and charging can be controlled using a smartphone app. Charging time is eight hours, the same as with a wired connection. The unit can safely be installed outdoors, and is not affected by weather conditions. It does require some modifications – a pad must be added to the car’s underside – so it can’t be retrofitted to a pre-2013 Leaf.