Volkswagen Unplugged: T-Minus 3 Years to Wireless Charging

Der neue Volkswagen e-Golf

Wireless charging for devices has barely caught on and is by no means a mass-market enterprise just yet, but that seemingly hasn’t stopped companies like Volkswagen (VLKAY.PK) from extrapolating that technology to apply to gadgets bigger than cell phones or tablets. Say, for example, an electric car.

With the e-Golf electric hatchback due out later this year, Volkswagen is working on development of an inductive charging mechanism that can charge the car without having to physically plug it into anything. The option is reported to become available on cars after 2017, which some state is later than expected. However, Volkswagen is holding off for good reason.

One of the major questions facing the electric vehicle market today is what to do about charging standardizations. Some parties have been pushing for a charging standard that’s universal and can accommodate any car, whilst others — Tesla comes to mind — have set out on their own, not willing to wait for technology to catch up so it can build its network of proprietary charging units.

The same lack of a standard could potentially hinder wireless charging also, reports. “When applied to inductive charging this could become hugely expensive for two-EV households and inconvenient for anybody using a public station,” said.

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“That’s not good for the customer,” Herbert Ruholl, Volkswagen’s technical leader for electrified vehicles, told at the launch of the Volkswagen e-Golf in Berlin. “For example, if you have different cars in your household or in your company you do not want to buy such an inductive charging system for each car. You can expect it in more-or-less three years when we are ready to bring it into the market.”

Additionally, added that customer demand will likely play a significant role in the future of VW’s wireless plans. Especially when new, the option isn’t going to be a cheap one by any means. The site also reported that Toyota is playing with a version of wireless charging on its plug-in Prius prototypes too, and it will also have an impact on VW’s internal timeframe.

Plugless, a company which already develops wireless charging kits for the Chevrolet Volt and Nissan Leaf, sells the package for about $3,000, though Volkswagen declined to give a price estimate. Volkswagen will most likely use Bosch, which also supplies equipment to Plugless, as a supplier for wireless charging kits, said.