Earlier this year, Tesla Motors [NASDAQ:TSLA] pushed its 7.2 system update to all compatible Tesla Model S and Tesla Model X electric cars. Enhancing the already-active Autopilot features of hardware-enabled Tesla cars made after October 2014, the update added a whole host of extra features to customers’ cars, including the highly-anticipated ‘Autopilot Summon’ feature.
When activated on private property, Tesla’s Autopilot Summon feature made it possible for hardware-equipped Model S and Model X cars to automatically park themselves in their owners’ garages with nobody inside the car, opening and closing garage doors as required to safely park and then later, exit the garage ready for the next trip. But while Tesla’s Autopilot Summon feature is a neat party trick, Tesla owners who used it still have to return to their car later to plug their vehicles in, making the Autopilot Summon a little less practical than it would if paired with some form of automatic charging system.
In a few months’ time however, that will change courtesy of a brand-new, second-generation Plugless Power 7.2 kilowatt wireless inductive charging system coming to the Tesla Model S as an aftermarket accessory from inductive charging specialists Evatran.
Confirmed last week, the U.S. company will begin shipping 7.2 kilowatt charging systems for rear-wheel drive Tesla Model S cars in April, followed later this year by a similar wireless inductive charging system for all-wheel drive variants of the Model S.
“Earlier this week we opened early reservations for Plugless 7.2 kW hands-free charging to Tesla owners who had previously asked us about Plugless for Tesla,” confirmed Steve Cummings, Senior Manager, Brand and Marketing Strategy at Evatran in an official post on the Tesla Motors Club Forum late last week. “These Tesla owners had learned about our 1st generation 3.3kW system for the Leaf, Volt and ELR. We expect to begin shipping Tesla 7.2kW units in April for RWD models and then later in the year for D “AWD” models.”
Like the first generation system developed for the Nissan LEAF, first-generation Chevrolet Volt and Cadillac ELR, the Tesla-specific wireless charging system for the Model S will require the installation of a special inductive charging receiver plate on the underside of customer’s Model S electric cars. Designed to make use of the existing hardware on the Tesla Model S, the charging system is designed to operate alongside Tesla’s conventional conductive charging system, and will make it possible to inductively charge the Model S without wires when a car fitted with the system is parked over Evatran’s specially-designed parking pad.
As with the previous systems offered by Evatran, the Plugless Power system for the Tesla Model S is an aftermarket product. In other words, it isn’t something you’ll be able to specify when ordering your new Tesla Model S. But with a network of installers across the U.S., Evatran says it will work with customers to arrange installation of the system at a mutually convenient time, with the installation itself taking no more than a few hours. While Evatran has no connection with Tesla Motors and as such, is offering the product as a third-party aftermarket accessory, it says all wireless inductive charging systems will come with a limited three-year warranty which not only covers the wireless inductive charging system but also covers any damage to the original vehicle sustained as a consequence of fitting or using the product.
According to Evatran, its 3.3 kilowatt wireless charging system — which we’re about to test out on one of our Staff Fleet Nissan LEAFs — is about twelve to fifteen percent less efficient than a traditional conductive charging system. While there’s no official energy comparisons yet for the 7.2 kW Tesla inductive charging system, the net effect is that you’ll find yourself paying a little more on your electricity bill for using such a system compared to a ‘plug-in’ solution.
Interested Tesla Model S owners can make a refundable deposit of $244 to secure themselves a Model S wireless charger reservation for a discounted price of $2,440 when the system begins shipping in April. After that time, the price will go up, but Evatran says it has yet to set official pricing for customers who place an order after the initial early reservation period has ended.
As we’ve said before, while many electric automakers are keen to promote the benefits wireless charging could bring to the electric cars of the near future, we — like many owners, advocates and industry experts — remain skeptical on the benefits that wireless charging has in everyday use cases, especially when it takes so little time to plug an electric car in.
But when married to Tesla’s Autopilot Summon feature, even if it is as an aftermarket accessory, there’s a whole lot more potential to wireless charging than ever before imagined.
Would you like a car that can automatically park and charge itself? Is a wireless charging system for an Autopilot Summon Tesla far more logical than an autonomous charging connector? And if you have a TEsla Model S, will you be ordering one?
Leave your thoughts in the Comments below.
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