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When we saw that GM was adding wireless charging to the Chevy Volt, we thought, you know, it meant, wireless charging for the car. Instead, GM's announcement today about a new, $5 million investment from GM Ventures in the wireless charging technology company Powermat will end up bringing magnetic induction charging to GM's cars and your pocketful of gadgets. In short, it'll now be easier to transfer power from your car to your phone and, really, if you want to be a downer about all of this, this is a way to reduce your Volt all-electric range to talk a bit more or to be able to power your iPhone from imported gasoline – just like you can in your regular car. Of course, if you're making short drives and powering up your car from renewable or low-rate overnight electricity, then you can charge up your devices from those same sources. The benefits of a Volt with Powermat will all be in how you use it.

While one of the first GM products to have a Powermat option will be the Volt, GM said Powermats be available in "many future Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac products beginning mid-2012." Jon Lauckner, a long-time Volt team member and now president of GM Ventures, said:
We first developed the Volt concept car in 2006. 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.
GM Ventures has previously invested in $5 million in Bright Automotive and $4.2 million in Sakti3.

[Source: General Motors]

PRESS RELEASE

GM, Powermat to Put Added 'Charge' in Chevy Volt


Automaker Invests in Start-Up to Do Away With Charging Cords

LAS VEGAS, Jan. 6, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- 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."

About General Motors

General Motors Company (NYSE: GM, TSX: GMM), one of the world's largest automakers, traces its roots back to 1908. With its global headquarters in Detroit, GM employs 209,000 people in every major region of the world and does business in more than 120 countries. GM and its strategic partners produce cars and trucks in 31 countries, and sell and service these vehicles through the following brands: Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, GMC, Daewoo, Holden, Isuzu, Jiefang, Opel, Vauxhall, and Wuling. GM's largest national market is China, followed by the United States, Brazil, the United Kingdom, Germany, Canada, and Russia. GM's OnStar subsidiary is the industry leader in vehicle safety, security and information services.

About Powermat

Powermat was the first company to perfect inductive-based wireless charging and to bring it to consumers in a widely available, meaningful way via mainstream retail channels. The undisputed leader in wireless charging, Powermat leads the category in all facets including technology, retail footprint, consumer experience, and brand. Powermat allows users to enable their electronic devices once with a Powermat receiver and then set down up to three devices on the charging mat for fast, safe and effective wireless charging. It's simple, effortless, and provides consumers with first-of-its-kind freedom from the need to constantly plug/unplug as well as the angst of running on empty
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  • 15 Comments
      • 4 Years Ago
      Apparently the bulk of consumers today want contrivances such as charging pads in their new car.
      Amenities like this help to sell a vehicle and if that vehicle just happens to be more environmentally friendly then it seems a win-win deal.
      GM makes a bit more profit,manufacturers have the opportunity to sell the hardware,more families get a tiny piece of the pie,the world is less dependent on a dwindling and toxic resource.
      The charge mat takes so little energy that the effect is negligible on mileage or emissions.
      Much less so than if the customer decided to opt for the charge mat equipped SUV because they must be available,when Mr.Opportunity comes knocking.
      • 4 Years Ago
      i'll.. be worrying about loosing the rest of my hair :< does anybody know if there are any related health concerns?
      • 4 Years Ago
      Forget charging my I-Phone with my Volt, I want to reverse the flow of electricity to get a little more AER! I would get at least another 10 feet by drawing down my phone which would increase my AER range from 35 miles to around 35.002 miles! That would make all the difference in the world.
        • 4 Years Ago
        You're thinking small-time here! How about turning the whole car into one giant Powermat, that somehow sucks all the energy out of the lead-acid car batteries from nearby cars that it passes, thus offering nearly limitless range!

        ;-)
      • 4 Years Ago
      For anyone who accidentally took ABG seriously, know that charging your iPhone from your car will not reduce the range in any way that you can notice.

      The Volt has about 10kWh of battery in its pack, that's good for about 38 miles. That's 263 Wh per mile.

      An iPhone has about 4kW of battery in its pack. So by sucking that much energy out of the pack you reduce the rance of the car about 1/91th of a mile or about 58 feet. So you reduce your total range by about the length of your driveway. If this is a problem you can recover this distance, just part closer to the entrance of the parking lot at your destination and walk the extra distance to the door instead of driving to a spot nearer to the door.

      So no, you don't have to worry about taking short drives if you want to charge your phone in your EV.

      It's kind of funny I made this joke at lunch yesterday because my phone was out of juice and I had to charge it up in my friend's Volt. I filled it to about 30% full from his battery pack on the way to lunch and joked I was stealing his electricity. He joked back that he actually had the system set in reverse and he was using my phone for the extra range.
        • 4 Years Ago
        re: "An iPhone has about 4kW of battery in its pack."

        I assume you just aded the k accidentally.
        An iphone has about 2300 mAh. not kw's.
        Similar to a single AA battery.
        I believe thats roughly 3 watts.
        at least Gen 3 iphone. Gen 4 probably up to 4 or 5.

        otherwise... 4kw's = 4000 watts
        • 4 Years Ago
        You're right, I dropped the h from kWh instead of the k. An iPhone has about 5.2Wh in its pack. I believe it is 1420mAh (says iFixit), which is about 5.2Wh (I assumed 4Wh before).
        • 4 Years Ago
        How does your friend like his Volt? Is it meeting or not meeting his expectations? Anything he does not like? I am curious how these early examples are doing with 2 years of hype and hate heaped on the car.
        • 4 Years Ago
        He loves it. His wife wants one for herself now. Although realistically they couldn't even charge them both (he uses 120V).

        Yeah, he wasn't thrilled it doesn't have dual-zone climate. But he's over that now.

        He's used about 1/2 gallon of gas during his 250 miles of ownership so far and of course electricity for the rest.

        The thing is very, very quiet, even in gas mode. And it doesn't perform like a Prius, it performs like a regular car. Range is good, we got about 35 miles (with two to spare) on a highway trip, including a significant uphill grade. And he was doing 70 and over almost the whole way.
      • 4 Years Ago
      During my electrical career I have designed many transformers and chokes for accoustical equipment, for power supplies, for grid applications etc.etc.. I'm quite familiar with the laws of physics applicable to induction devices. I'm also familiar with the attitude - a majority of people have - to waste resources and energy and I'm certainly not fond of such attitudes.
      An induction charging device (not hard wired / plugged) is primarily meant to encourage fat, lazy and complacent individuals to keep on wasting resources and energy.
      As a matter of fact, such an option would be a good reason for me not to purchase anything designed for such an option.
        • 4 Years Ago
        " fat, lazy and complacent individuals to keep on wasting resources and energy."

        My EV is going to solar sourced so I've got unlimited free energy, so charging in the car is less wasteful than charging at home.

        And if induction charging moves even a single person to an EV over an ICE, all the better.
        • 4 Years Ago
        It would certainly not stop me from buying the product. And if this helps GM get more sales, I'm all for it.

        But I agree that such induction charging systems are a cute little gimmick that saves a few seconds at the expense of wasted energy. However, with with a cell phone (which has a tiny battery), in a car it won't be that much wasted energy.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Really? I plug my phone in to charge it every time I get in my car, so this would do nothing more than allow me to carry less cables around with me, and would save me a few seconds every time I hop in my car...and I'm neither fat, nor lazy.
        • 4 Years Ago
        powermat is not for the lazy at all! It makes your phone so freakin heavy you wish you just had to carry a cable. I lifted one from the display at BestBuy and couldn't help but to start laughing.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I've always wanted to try out powermat's charging solutions, but unfortunately my phone isn't supported by them yet...hopefully this relationship will allow them to expand to support more phones so my Droid Incredible can get some induction charging lovin' too :)
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