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Nissan EV charging--look ma, no wires!

Demo video shows hands-free charging for the Nissan Leaf. Drivers simply park over over a mat that uses induction charging, a technology automakers hope will make EVs easier to charge.

No wires needed: a Nissan demonstration video shows how an induction mat charges the Leaf wirelessly.
No wires needed: a Nissan demonstration video shows how an induction mat charges the Leaf wirelessly. Screen capture by Martin LaMonica/CNET

Rather than fiddle with cables, Nissan EV drivers will have the option to park over a wireless charger.

Nissan is working on a system in which drivers park over an induction charging mat that creates a wireless connection to an electric vehicle's on-board charger. Using a dashboard display to navigate, drivers back up so the charging map is under the rear wheels. Sensors stop the car at the appropriate spot and the charging is started by operating a touch-screen display on a charge point.

The automaker released a demonstration video of induction charging with the Leaf last month in Japanese. An English version of the same video surfaced recently, along with rumors that it will be available with new Leaf purchases next year.

The wireless EV charging system works the same way induction charging works for electronic gadgets or toothbrushes, according to Nissan. Electricity flows through a coil in the mat, which creates a magnetic field. That field then induces current in a second coil on the vehicle to feed electricity to the car's batteries.

How induction charging works. Click for larger image. Nissan

A number of automakers and EV charging companies are working on some form of contactless charging. They are supposed to be easier than inserting an automotive-grade cable into a car's charge port, although there is a loss of energy through induction, which is said to be on the order of 10 percent to 20 percent.

Nissan's induction system, which has been tested for municipal customers in Japan, is one of the accessories the company is building around the Leaf. The company has developed a smaller fast-charging spot and is designing a system that will allow homeowners to tap the energy stored in Leaf batteries to power their home.