CES 2021

Coils in this wireless smartphone charger move closer to your device for best results

A new technology by Panasonic charges a smartphone uniquely.

Photo courtesy of Panasonic Automotive

Most wireless phone chargers currently installed in vehicles require a phone to be docked loosely into a specific area - to touch a certain area of the charging pad. If the phone shifts while going around a turn or because of a rough road, the phone loses its charge until you move it back into place. It can be as annoying as it sounds, especially at night when the phone lights up every time its charge status changes.

New in-vehicle wireless charging technology announced by Panasonic Automotive today changes up the wiring behind traditional wireless charging technology in an innovative way. The two types, moving coil and static coil, allow devices to be recharged quickly while vehicles turned on.

The moving coil charge variant of the wireless charging pad has patent pending tracking technology that targets a device once it's in the tray. The coil moves into the optimum position to align with the mobile device's charging coil and begins charging with 15 watts of charging power, one of the highest rates of charge in the industry. In addition to being able to move toward the device in need of charging, the technology has better coupling capability when compared to other wireless charging systems.

The company says that the new tech meets or exceeds most current in-vehicle charging systems.

Many new vehicles offer available wireless charging. Nearly all offer cabled charging via a USB Type A or USB Type C charging port. These wireless charging trays are frequently located at the front of the center console while others sit inside the console or require a phone to fit into a charging slot in the console.

For the 2021 model year, Hyundai began offering wireless charginng with cooling fans that work to alleviate the problem of high-heat generation that occurs while charging at higher speeds for prolonged periods of time. High temperatures may cause a device to stop working and a charger to malfunction.

In order for the system to cahrge a smartphone, the phone must be wireless charging compatible.

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New luxury EV

Lexus announces all-electric RZ 450e

Lexus just announced the new RZ 450e


Lexus and Toyota have finally jumped onto the EV train, and we’ll soon see new all-electric SUVs from both. The Lexus variant, named RZ 450e, features a reasonable range, upscale interior, and neat all-wheel drive technology. We don’t have firm pricing for the Lexus, but expect it to start in the mid-to-high $40,000 range.

2023 Lexus RZRange is expected to reach 225 miles per chage. Lexus

The RZ shares a platform and much of its underlying engineering with the Toyota bZ4X and Subaru Solterra, but will take a more upscale approach. Though its size and overall shape are similar to the others, the Lexus’ exterior styling is sharper and sportier, with functional aerodynamic bodywork. A new Lexus logo is spelled out on the rear gate, instead of the traditional “L” of previous models.

The SUV comes with a 71.4-kWh battery that should deliver a range of around 225 miles on a charge. All-wheel drive is standard, and uses the RZ’s dual electric motors to shift power between the wheels that need it most.

Inside, the RZ features a minimalist, open space with controls meant to remind drivers of a horse’s reins. Ultrasuede upholstery and woodgrain trim come standard. Lexus notes the RZ’s head-up display is controllable via steering wheel-mounted buttons that handle navigation, audio, and other functions.

2023 Lexus RZThough similar to the Toyota bZ4X inside, the Lexus IS more upscale and minimalist. Lexus

Speaking of the steering wheel, the first RZs will be available with a round wheel only, but later on, Lexus will offer a yoke-style wheel like the one seen in the Toyota bZ4X concept and Tesla’s Plaid models.

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Rivian R1T
Photo courtesy of Rivian

Citing rising component and materials costs, Rivian raised prices for its two electric vehicles earlier this week. The price hike impacts existing order holders and new customers alike, which didn't go over so well, as you might imagine. Today, the company walked that decision back, after facing complaints and seeing canceled orders from angry customers.

Rivian R1T and R1S Photo courtesy of Rivian

Rivian raised its prices by 17 percent and 20 percent for the R1T pickup and R1S SUV, respectively. Almost immediately, the move caused a stir, with customers and half the internet lobbing criticism and complaints at the automaker. Now, though, it seems the company is ready to make amends. In a letter sent to customers, Rivian CEO RJ Scaringe noted that prices for preorders placed before March 1 will roll back to the original price, and noted that anyone who canceled their order can place a new one and keep their place in line, along with their original vehicle configuration. Scaringe says that going forward, the company's dual-motor and standard battery pack offerings are in place to give buyers a more affordable alternative to the quad-motor, extended-range vehicles it sells.

New photos show Rivian R1S on, off the production lineautomotivemap.com

In his letter, Scaringe apologizes for the change. He explains that the move broke the trust Rivian has with its customers and notes that the company didn't handle communication of the changes well. He said that components from semiconductors to sheetmetal are all more expensive, and apologizes for applying the price increases to all future orders, regardless of when they were placed.

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