Hop in your car, drop your cellphone in the center console, turn the ignition switch, drive off, and your phone or iPod will charge automatically — if it’s the new 2013 Dodge Dart. Parent Chrysler is offering an in-vehicle wireless charging option starting with the Dart, a compact car that ships this spring. Chrysler says it’s compatible with iPhone, BlackBerry, MP3 players, and Android-based devices. It will cost $200 plus installation. That’s up to four times the price of a charging mat from PowerMat or Duracell for home use, or third-party charging mats you install yourself.
With Chrysler’s wireless charger, you put your phone or music player in a special case, stick it atop the charging mat (it doesn’t have to be perfectly aligned at all), and it charges automatically. Chrysler says the charger is conductive not inductive, conductive meaning it has to be in contact with the mat.Inductive devices can have an air gap. As with other wireless chargers, there’s no risk of shock with the Chrysler accessory, other than the list price. Automakers will tell you this is the cost of meeting crash certification requirements, covering the part for the car’s three- or four-year warranty, and extreme automotive environments. Whatever: That’s why you have $1,500 in-navigation and $200 update discs from automakers vs. $250 portable navigation devices from Garmin and TomTom vs. $10-a-year smartphone navigation.
Chrysler estimates shop time at a half-hour to install the charging device — actually, a bin that fits at the base of the center stack – -making this a $250-$275 option. Chrysler says it will offer phone-specific kits for the top five phones (Apple, Android, BlackBerry) for the top three carriers (AT&T, Verizon, Sprint), cases for other phones can be ordered, and there’s a universal kit with the most popular connectors offered.
Wireless inductive charging could also make life easier for owners of hybrids, plug-in hybrids, and electric vehicles. HaloIPT, a New Zealand company, has designed an in-floor charger you’d roll over and when you hop out and flip a switch, the car charges wirelessly, without any danger to people or pets, and without the need to be perfectly centered. The driver doesn’t have to plug in the car each night. They also see inductive chargers in public parking spots and — hello, federal subsidies — heavily trafficked highways with mile after mile of inductive charging loops that power your electric car.
The Dodge Dart is a compact car competing with Chevrolet Cruze, Ford Focus, Honda Civic, Hyundai Elantra, and Toyota Corolla. Its differentiators include 10 airbags packed inside its 184 inches, and a 7-inch LCD instrument panel (speedometer and tachometer remain analog). The arrival of the Dart is something of a public service, since it replaces the unloved Dodge Caliber.
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