Wireless charging for Volkswagen electric cars from 2017

Perhaps later than expected, Volkswagen will offer wireless charging as an optional extra for its electric cars from 2017.

Currently all of Volkswagen Group’s battery-electric and plug-in hybrid cars require a physical corded connection in order to recharge their batteries, although wireless charging is preferable for a number of reasons, chiefly convenience. The technology, however, is still relatively immature.

While Volkswagen says that is has wireless – or inductive – charging stations in a state of ‘pre-development’, it means that the technology will not be offered for the new e-Golf hatchback that goes on sale in the US this October.

The decision to hold back stems from a concern that the drawbacks highlighted by a lack of standardisation for corded charging could similarly hinder wireless charging – currently not every type of electric car can charge up at a given electric charging station. When applied to inductive charging this could become hugely expensive for two-EV households and inconvenient for anybody using a public station.

“That’s not good for the customer,” Herbert Ruholl, Volkswagen’s technical leader for electrified vehicles, told ecomento.com 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.”

Customer demand will further dictate when and to what extent Volkswagen offers wireless charging – as a cost option it is unlikely to be cheap. The strategies of rival automakers will affect Volkswagen’s timeframe, too, and Toyota has already begun testing the technology with Prius Plug-in Hybrid prototypes.

Volkswagen says that it’s too early to talk about price, although Plugless, an American third-party company specialising in the technology, currently offers wireless charging kits for the Nissan LEAF and Chevrolet Volt for around $3,000.

Company executives have said, however, that the technology will remain relatively expensive for the foreseeable future and as such a luxury option. Volkswagen will most likely use Bosch, who also supply equipment to Plugless, as a supplier for wireless charging kits.

So far no manufacturer offers inductive charging as a factory option.