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Mats could spur electric car sales

SOUTHFIELD, Mich. – One reason electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles have hit the market with a thud is that there are strings attached: Drivers of models such as the Chevrolet Volt and Nissan Leaf must plug in to recharge the battery.

A number of companies are developing ways to cut the cord, to replenish the battery wirelessly with a mat that sits on the floor. Coils on the underside of the car engage the charger when the car is parked over them. The mats are plugged in while the car isn’t. Automakers and suppliers expect to have the chargers ready for sale around 2015.

“The feedback we see from initial Volt and Leaf buyers is that, ‘Gee, these cords get really dirty; gee, these cords get all tangled; what a pain in the neck,’ ” said Phil Gott, an IHS Automotive analyst specializing in power-train research. “A wireless charger truly gives you total freedom.”

Automakers are looking to such vehicles to comply with regulatory pressure to boost mileage and pare emissions. But 96 percent of consumers globally aren’t even considering electric and plug-in vehicles, Deloitte LLP said in a 2011 survey.


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