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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Newly introduced electric vehicles are capable of charging wirelessly rather than tethered to a power cable, a technology that could one day help autonomous EVs stay running around the clock.

Why it matters: The ability to charge whenever they have a chance — through wireless charging source pads embedded in roadways and parking spots — would make AVs more efficient because they would never have to be taken out of operation for refueling.

How it works: These systems rely on resonant charging, which transfers electricity across an air gap between two magnetic coils and then to the vehicle's battery. It's a larger-scale version of technology already available for cell phones.

The catch: Significant public and private investment will be required to expand wireless source pads beyond private homes and offices and into roadways, especially to support electric AVs in ride-sharing and delivery fleets.

  • Automakers will have to make sure their vehicles are compliant with industry standards for interoperability, while state and local governments will need to install wireless charging infrastructure along streets and in public parking facilities and residential areas.

Where it stands: Last year, the SAE announced a new recommended specification for wireless and plug-in electric vehicles, putting wireless charging on track for standardization. A number of car models in production now include wireless charging capabilities: BMW's 530e hybrid, Hyundai's new Kona, Porsche's Mission E and Audi's e-tron SUV.

  • Standardization will help automakers scale production and ensure that any future charging infrastructure supports all brands. Early EVs had different plug-in charging connectors, an inconvenience automakers are eager to avoid going forward.
  • The industry is expected to ratify the new SAE standard and its equivalent in China in 2019.

What to watch: As electric AVs are more widely deployed, charging stations could be run by municipalities working directly with utilities or by private companies with franchised locations, on the model of gas stations and convenience stores.

Alex Gruzen is the CEO of WiTricity, which develops technologies for wireless energy transfer.

Go deeper

Collins helps contractor before pro-Susan PAC gets donation

Sen. Susan Collins during her reelection campaign. Photo: Scott Eisen/Getty Images

A PAC backing Sen. Susan Collins in her high-stakes reelection campaign received $150,000 from an entity linked to the wife of a defense contractor whose firm Collins helped land a federal contract, new public records show.

Why it matters: The executive, Martin Kao of Honolulu, leaned heavily on his political connections to boost his business, federal prosecutors say in an ongoing criminal case against him. The donation linked to Kao was veiled until last week.

How cutting GOP corporate cash could backfire

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Companies pulling back on political donations, particularly to members of Congress who voted against certifying President Biden's election win, could inadvertently push Republicans to embrace their party's rightward fringe.

Why it matters: Scores of corporate PACs have paused, scaled back or entirely abandoned their political giving programs. While designed to distance those companies from events that coincided with this month's deadly siege on the U.S. Capitol, research suggests the moves could actually empower the far-right.

5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Kaine, Collins pitch Senate colleagues on censuring Trump

Sen. Tim Kaine speaks with Sen. Susan Collins. Photo: Andrew Harnik/AP via Getty Images

Sens. Tim Kaine and Susan Collins are privately pitching their colleagues on a bipartisan resolution censuring former President Trump, three sources familiar with the discussions tell Axios.

Why it matters: Senators are looking for a way to condemn Trump on the record as it becomes increasingly unlikely Democrats will obtain the 17 Republican votes needed to gain a conviction in his second impeachment.