Following up on the recent news about the SAE’s new standard for wireless electric vehicle charging, here’s another sign that the age of the “plug-in” car has an end in sight.
To be sure, this end will take a while to arrive, but when we look back at the dawn of the EV era in a few decades, we’ll see that the way we fill up our cars followed the same trajectory as we went through (i.e., are still going through right now) with cell phones. The latest smartphones still allow for a wired charge, but those wireless charging pads are becoming more and more common.
That’s the trend that Witricity is looking to capitalize on with a new $34-million funding round that was led by Stage 1 Ventures and included a strategic investment by Mitsubishi Corp (Americas). Witricity says the investment will allow it to continue to develop wireless charing technology as well as “expand its intellectual property portfolio, and capitalize on the commercial momentum for wireless charging for electric vehicles (EVs) and in the broader mobility market.”
Mitsubishi has offered two plug-in vehicles in the U.S., the now-discontinued all-electric jellybean called the i-MiEV and the still-available Outlander PHEV plug-in hybrid. Neither could be charged wirelessly, but we can’t imagine a good reason for the automaker to invest in the technology if it’s not interested in offering it to buyers at some point. Just how that will play out remains a company secret, but WiTricity said in a press release that Mitsubishi’s investment in WiTricity “reflects an innovative vision for the future of smart cities.”
“As an investor, Mitsubishi sees EV wireless charging as critical for urban infrastructure, and their investment reflects their vision for the future of smart cities and wireless power’s role in mobility,” Witricity told me in a statement.
Witricity is one of the leaders in the upcoming wireless charing world, especially after acquiring rival Qualcomm Halo in 2019. As a result of that move, Witricity said, it now holds more than 1,000 patents around the world.
A number of automakers are developing wireless charging for their EVs, in part because it’s an efficient way to transfer energy and also because it makes living with an electric vehicle easier, and almost magical. You simply park the outfitted car over the charge pad and walk away. When you come back, it’s ready to go. Interested buyers can get a taste today, as there are two vehicles available with wireless charing (also known as inductive charging): the McLaren Speedtail Hyper-GT and the BMW 530e iPerformance. The real win will come when its available on more affordable brands like Mitsubishi.