Toyota is the first major automaker to offer a factory-installed wireless charging system, and the first one to be Qi-certified—that's the standard set by the Wireless Power Consortium (WPC), which has over a hundred company-members.
GM had planned to launch a Powermat charge pad in its Chevrolet Volt, but the integrated feature hasn't yet arrived. And Chrysler is planning to offer a charging mat in the Dodge Dart, although it will be an aftermarket accessory through its Mopar arm.
Providing a place to charge...without the cords and cables
According to chief engineer Randy Stephens, in the early stages of clinic work for the Avalon, Toyota found that customers had the common complaint that they didn't have a place to store their cellphones. The Avalon's special e-bin at the front of the center console addresses that need, giving you a designated space to plug in and prop up phones, but it seemed like a good time to apply wireless charging for cellphones.
From the customer standpoint, with the new Qi charging pad integrated into the e-bin, as engineer Nick Sitarski points out in the video below, all you need to do is set your phone down on the charging pad.
That's once you buy a Qi sleeve for your phone; a total of 34 models are now supported, including LG, Nokia, HTC, and Apple (and Verizon is already installing it into some of their phones). In inductive charging such as this, a coil creates an electomagnetic field that's then converted back to an electrical current within the sleeve, to charge the phone.
Toyota just a year ago partnered with Denso and PLDS (Philips Lite-on Digital Solution), and managed to design the components within the e-bin lid (yet not interfere with radio reception). The system in the Avalon uses just a five-watt transmitter; future applications of the Qi charging system could scale up to two kilowatts.
Special material to keep phones from sliding
Toyota also looked at a lot of surfaces to choose one that won't allow the phone to slide around. “We spent a lot of time on choosing the perfect material with the perfect surface and perfect finish to reduce the movement of the phone and not disturb the charging,“ said Stephens.
Qi wireless charging - in 2013 Toyota Avalon LimitedEnlarge Photo
See the video below, as Randy Stephens, chief engineer of the 2013 Toyota Avalon, and engineers Nick Sitarski and Sergei Gage, outline and demonstrate the Qi charging system offered in the Avalon, and then read through our full review of the 2013 Avalon for more on what makes this new and much-improved model of the best large sedans on the market.