General Motors and Powermat, which makes wireless charging technology, have signed an agreement that will eliminate the need for charging cords for personal electronic devices in future GM vehicles from mid-2012.

GM Ventures, the automaker’s venture capital subsidiary, will invest US$5m in Powermat to accelerate the technology’s development and support efforts to grow the business globally.

The Chevrolet Volt will be one of the first GM vehicles to offer this technology.

“Imagine a mat or shelf where you could put your iPhone, your Droid or other personal device and charge it automatically,” said Micky Bly, GM’s top electronics executive.

“The Chevy Volt will be one of the first applications, but we intend to expand it across our vehicle portfolio,” Bly added.

Powermat, a private firm, was founded in 2007 and offers wireless charging products for the home in a number of retail stores, including Best Buy, Target and Wal-Mart.

Wireless charging technology is already widely used for electric toothbrushes.

Jon Lauckner, who helped create the Volt concept and now is president of GM Ventures, has been dreaming about a technology like Powermat for years.

“We first developed the Volt concept car in 2006,” Lauckner said. “The intent was to revolutionise every aspect of the car, not just the propulsion system.  We had something like this in mind even then, and we think it will have widespread appeal.”