Just when you thought technology couldn't get any cooler, Nissan goes and creates a suitcase-sized plastic mat that charges the Leaf through thin air. We're not exaggerating—we have a graphic.
Start at the red arrow. That's the power outlet in your garage that sends electricity to the power pad, also known as an induction pad to describe the electromagnetic process that transfers the juice to a panel on the bottom of the Leaf without physically touching it. The AC power that flows into the primary coil on the ground device produces a magnetic field that induces current into the secondary coil, charging the battery and knocking our socks off. (Well, sort of off: It's actually the same kind of technology that charges electronic toothbrushes.) Fast Company's Kit Eaton explains how everybody wins with wireless car-charging:
Due to their more resilient design, and zero reliance on users connecting up electrics correctly--including not dropping the heavy plugs accidentally, or driving off with the cable hooked-up--it's possible that wireless charging mats like this will become commonplace at roadside rest stops and garages. This would cause more frequent stops for motorists, what with range anxiety still a real concern for EV drivers. That's something that driving safety campaigners, worried about drivers falling asleep at the wheel, may welcome. And the roadside cafe industry may also like the idea.
Sounds amazing! Testing is already underway in the Japanese market, and rumors are flying that Nissan might release an induction pad-powered Leaf as early as next year. So why don't we power everything this way? "It's wasteful," Eaton notes. "Due to the immutable laws of physics, there's some energy lost as part of the process, and it may be as much as 20%." Oh well, back fossil fuels, we guess.