Toyota — builder of some incredibly inefficient trucks and SUVs — is often considered a laggard when it comes to electric vehicles. But CarBuzz uncovered one of the Japanese company's U.S. patent applications that suggests they could have some genuinely groundbreaking EV technology in the works.
The Toyota patent is for a "vehicle to vehicle wireless energy transfer" system. Basically, if EV A finds itself running out of battery, it could rendezvous with EV B that has a full battery; the cars would coordinate speed and route to meet up, then EV B could transfer energy to EV A wirelessly while the vehicles are in motion.
Don't expect this feature on, say, the all-electric Toyota bZ4X that launches shortly. This technology's utility presupposes significant technological developments. First, you would need wireless charging tech good enough to transfer the significant amount of power required to run an electric vehicle in a reasonable amount of time. Such energy transfers would also require relatively sophisticated autonomous driving technology. The cars would need to match speeds and get in line with each other. And let's face it, the whole enterprise would work more effectively if it didn't require human intervention and altruism. An electric Lexus LX limping along the side of the highway as its owner frantically seeks out a fully-charged Camry that isn't in a rush on the app would be sub-optimal.
The vehicle-to-vehicle option would likely be one option as part of a vast charging infrastructure that could include things like mobile chargers roaming highways and roads that do the charging themselves. One could see embarking on a road trip with a full battery, dispensing and receiving power as needed en route, fast charging when the humans need pitstops, and never having to do the most annoying thing about owning an EV — making a 35-minute stop to recharge to 80 percent.