CES 2011: Chevy Volt Wireless Charging

General Motors is coming to Powermat, and Powermat is coming to GM vehicles. The auto giant said its venture-capital arm GM Ventures would sink $5 million into the wireless charging start up – not a huge move, considering GM does around $130 billion in annual business – and that it would add Powermat devices to the 2012 Chevy Volt, among other vehicles.

“The Chevy Volt will be one of the first applications, but we intend to expand it across our vehicle portfolio,” the company’s lead electronics executive, Micky Bly, said in a statement from Las Vegas and the Consumer Electronics Show, where GM was showing the Volt.

Powermat, GM, CHevy Volt

image via GM

The hookup with Powermat – and the emphasis on its placement in the Volt – makes sense for the post-bankruptcy GM, which clearly is angling to present itself as technologically innovative. In announcing the Powermat move, the company talked about the Volt as “a reinvention of the automobile” and said the ability to charge smart phones, MP3 players and gaming devices in a car and without cords fit perfectly.

GM said Jon Lauckner, who helped create the Volt concept and now heads GM Ventures, has been “dreaming about a technology like Powermat” for years. “We first developed the Volt concept car in 2006,” Lauckner was quoted as saying. “The intent was to revolutionize every aspect of the car, not just the propulsion system.  We had something like this in mind even then, and we think it will have widespread appeal.”

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Pete Danko is a writer and editor based in Portland, Oregon. His work has appeared in Breaking Energy, National Geographic's Energy Blog, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.