Tired of cables cluttering your car? General Motors thinks its a big enough problem to invest $5 million in the wireless charging start-up Powermat and equip it on the Chevrolet Volt in 2012.
For those unfamiliar with inductive charging, users can place their smartphone, MP3 player or portable gaming device on a special panel and an electromagnetic field transfers energy to the battery to charge the device. Powermat was one of the first companies to commercialize the technology and GM has signed a one-year exclusivity agreement to supply its vehicles with the system. What vehicles the General plans to install the system remains to be seen, but the Volt will be the first out of the gate. Get all the details in the press release below.
Automaker Invests in Start-Up to Do Away With Charging Cords
LAS VEGAS – General Motors and Powermat, a pioneer in wireless charging technology, announced a commercial agreement today that will eliminate the need for charging cords for personal electronic devices in many future Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac products beginning mid-2012.
GM Ventures, the company's venture capital subsidiary, will invest $5 million in Powermat to accelerate the technology's development and support efforts to grow Powermat's business globally.
Powermat's technology allows electronic devices – smart phones, MP3 players and gaming devices – to be charged safely and efficiently, according to Powermat CEO Ran Poliakine.
The Chevrolet Volt, conceived as a reinvention of the automobile that would help reduce America's dependence on oil, while providing the assurance of an extended driving range, will be one of the first GM vehicles to offer this technology. The technology is expected to revolutionize how electronic devices are charged in a car.
"Imagine a mat or shelf where you could put your iPhone, your Droid or other personal device and charge it automatically while you commute to work, run errands or as you're driving on a family vacation," said Micky Bly, GM's lead electronics executive, including infotainment, hybrids and battery electric vehicles.
"The Chevy Volt will be one of the first applications, but we intend to expand it across our vehicle portfolio," Bly said.
Powermat, a private firm, was founded in 2007 and offers wireless charging products for the home in a number of retail stores, including Best Buy, Target and Wal-Mart.
Poliakine is excited to start with the Chevrolet Volt, which has swept major Car of the Year awards to date.
"GM is among the rarest of giants in today's business climate: a forward-thinking innovator with the courage and good sense to care about the well-being of the consumer and the well-being of our planet," Poliakine said.
Jon Lauckner, who helped create the Volt concept and now is President of GM Ventures, has been dreaming about a technology like Powermat for years.
"We first developed the Volt concept car in 2006," Lauckner said. "The intent was to revolutionize every aspect of the car, not just the propulsion system. We had something like this in mind even then, and we think it will have widespread appeal."