In an exciting turn of events, it’s been revealed that Tesla is developing a wireless charging system for electric vehicles, on top of conventional AC or DC wired charging.
In theory, electric vehicles might replenish energy using a wireless charging system, similar to some home appliances like a toothbrush or a phone. There are special applications where wireless charging might be particularly useful, including robots, automated guided vehicles, or EV bus fleets, but overall, such a solution has not been used too often.
Because Tesla is the world’s largest all-electric car manufacturer, the potential introduction of a wireless charging system might bring a breakthrough to the industry.
The first sign that Tesla is interested in wireless charging was a hint in the company’s 2023 Investor Day presentation in March 2023. Tesla showed a large wall-mounted charging station, which supplies power to a ground pad, placed underneath the rear of a Tesla car. It looks like a home wireless charging unit, although there were no additional comments provided at the time.
It’s also worth noting that Tesla’s Head of Global Charging Infrastructure, Rebecca Tinucci, co-founded Evatran to offer Plugless Power wireless charging solutions for EVs before joining Tesla in 2018. The company launched a few pilot initiatives and shipped retrofit packages for some models like the Nissan Leaf or Chevrolet Volt, but at the time, it was not able to reach the mass EV market.
Another interesting sign that Tesla is interested in developing a wireless charging system was the acquisition of Wiferion, a German company that specializes in wireless charging, which also had a licensing agreement with WiTricity (a wireless charging technology supplier). This was reported in June and July 2023. Interestingly, Tesla sold Wiferion just a few months later, in October 2023, keeping only Wiferion’s engineers.
Ultimately, in December 2023, Tesla’s Chief Designer Franz von Holzhausen revealed that Tesla was working on an inductive (or wireless) charging solution during an interview about the Cybertruck with Jay Leno, which can be seen in the following linked video.
“Oh, we’re working on inductive charging. So you don’t even need to plug something in at that point. You just pull up in your garage, drive over the pad, and you’re charging.”
We don’t know yet when a Tesla wireless charging system might be available or what its initial consumer focus will be – home charging or fleets. Ultimately, one of the most important things to recall is that Tesla, as one of the leaders in autonomous driving, is seeking a solution to automatically recharge its vehicles. A wireless charging system that activates as soon as a vehicle drives over the pad might be the best way to make that happen.
Another thing that will prove important is standardization – in terms of the communication between a station and a vehicle, electrical specs (or frequency), and the position of the ground pad and the receiver pad on the vehicle side, in order to make the system future-proof and compatible with other EV models.
Wireless charging brings many challenges and is also considered less energy efficient, so it will be very interesting to see whether Tesla will really launch a wireless charging solution in the near future.