Toyota will show the Special Edition of its flagship Camry at this week’s Chicago Motor Show, with the model due for launch in 2016. The model will include in-vehicle wireless charging, with the fitment of a Qi-standard charging mat. The Toyota Camry was the highest selling vehicle in the US in 2014.
Toyota first offered this feature on its 2013 Avalon model, and offered this as an option item or high-grade standard feature on some selected models in Japan. The decision to include wireless charging within the Camry model is a significant move as prior to this announcement, wireless charging had been largely confined to higher-end and luxury vehicles rather than high-volume models.
The Wireless Power Consortium (WPC), creator of the Qi standard, currently has the highest number of automakers as members compared to any of the other alliances, with members such as Toyota/Lexus, Volkswagen Audi Group and General Motors – although General Motors are also members of the PMA. Qi-standard wireless charging pads are already available in the US on the Jeep Cherokee, whilst the 2015 Cadillac ATS sport sedan offers a pad that supports both Qi and PMA standards.
However, announcing fitment to the Special Edition of the Toyota Camry is a significant step. The Camry is the highest selling vehicle in the USA by volume, with 400,000 sold in 2014. Market penetration of vehicle features follows a typical adoption curve in the automotive market, starting with optional or standard fitment on high-end models and grades (such as this Special Edition) before filtering down across a brand’s model range as each new generation is released.
IHS estimates that 57 thousand wireless-charging equipped vehicles were sold globally in 2014, but forecasts this will exceed 17.5 million vehicles in 2020. Announcements such as the inclusion of wireless charging into the biggest selling vehicle in the US will help propel this growth.
Whilst the largest focus for wireless charging in the automotive sector have so far centred around in-vehicle charging mats for use with consumer devices, future opportunities are also possible for the vehicles themselves.
Various motoring press continue to report that the Audi e-Quattro concept will use inductive coupling to recharge the vehicle’s batteries on plug-in hybrid models – a technology that IHS will be researching in greater detail later this year. Wireless charging offers more convenience when ‘re-fuelling’ a plug-in vehicle, but IHS believes there are still challenges for this technology to overcome before this can become a viable reality – such as charging efficiency, alignment and cost to the driver.
However, the growth of wireless power and charging facilities is clearly gaining traction in the minds of the world’s largest vehicle manufacturers – we expect to see further announcements at major motor shows throughout 2015.
More analysis from IHS: Wireless Power Intelligence Service