DETROIT — Fast, convenient in-car wireless phone charging may seem like a luxury item, but in fact it's becoming very much a mainstream feature, available on many affordable models, like the 2016 Chevrolet Malibu.
According to a new tally from the Wireless Power Consortium, 34 vehicle models now offer wireless charging as either standard equipment or as a factory option. And all but one major automaker worldwide has at least one model available with this feature.
In fact, it may be surprising to learn that wireless charging was first offered in a moderately priced vehicle back in 2012 when it became an option on the 2013 Dodge Dart. Before that time, the feature was only available to owners of lower-priced cars as an aftermarket accessory.
Of course, wireless charging is still available in the 2016 Dart, as well as other Fiat Chrysler vehicles, including the 2016 Chrysler 200, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Dodge Grand Caravan and Ram 1500 pickup.
Toyota was an early adopter of the technology, first offering it on the upscale 2013 Avalon sedan. But now it's widely available on select vehicles throughout the lineup, including such models as the 2016 Camry, Prius and the Tacoma pickup.
With wireless charging, there's no need to plug a phone or other device into an onboard port. Instead, the device is simply placed on a charging pad located on top of the center armrest, in the console or elsewhere in the vehicle.
The Wireless Power Consortium, which developed the Qi system, notes that it can charge a phone from zero to 50 percent power in 30 minutes, which dovetails neatly into the average U.S. commute time of 25 minutes.
Edmunds says: Shoppers interested in wireless charging should check with their local dealer for availability on particular models.