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GM To Offer Wireless Charging For Smartphones In Some 2014 Cars : News

General Motors will start offering wireless charging for smartphones in some vehicles next year, said Ran Poliakine, CEO of Powermat Technologies.

Instead of plugging in cables to replenish battery power, drivers of some 2014 GM models will be able to place mobile devices onto a Powermat surface inside the car to draw electricity. Phones must be capable of recharging via built-in technology, or use a case designed for the purpose.

GM, an investor in Powermat, would be the first carmaker to build the company’s technology into its models, Poliakine said. The Detroit-based automaker is competing with Toyota Motor, which included a rival system in the 2013 Avalon, and Chrysler Group, which offers the feature in some 2013 Dart compact cars.

Global shipments of wirelessly charging devices are projected to rise to almost 100 million by 2015 from 5 million units last year, according to IHS.

“The car is a major part of life for everyone with a smartphone,” Poliakine said in an interview. “And this is taking care of that part of life.”

Phones that can charge without being plugged in contain a coil that receives electricity from a magnetic field when placed on a Powermat-enabled surface. Charging time is comparable to wired connections. Powermat’s joint venture with Procter & Gamble has installed its Duracell Powermat chargers in tables at Starbucks shops in Silicon Valley, Boston and Madison Square Garden in New York.

Several industry groups are promoting different standards: Power Matters Alliance, which includes Powermat, BlackBerry and AT&T; Wireless Power Consortium, with Nokia Oyj, Samsung Electronics and Verizon, and Qualcomm. Some companies joined multiple associations.

Dan Flores, a spokesman for GM, declined to comment on when Powermat technology would arrive in the company’s cars.

“We continue to work with Powermat to bring their technologies to GM products, but for competitive reasons we’re not discussing specifics at this time,” Flores said. “The technology continues to move forward.”

Powermat has raised more than $80 million, Poliakine said. GM announced a $5-million investment in Powermat in January 2011 to promote the use of wireless charging in cars. The automaker said then that the technology could be in vehicles as soon as mid-2012 and the Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid would be one of the first to offer it.

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