Think of it as a way to boost plug-in vehicle adoption by removing the "plug-in" part.

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has announced it will spend as much as $4 million to speed the development of wireless electric-vehicle charging stations. The DOE will award the funds to as many as four projects and hopeful applicants should go here to apply. Recipients will be announced this summer by the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy's Vehicle Technologies Program.

Electric-drive advocates say wireless, hands-free EV chargers will accelerate the adoption of EVs, and wireless EV charger revenue is expected to accelerate over the next few years as more people buy plug-in vehicles. Annual worldwide sales from wireless EV charging stations may total about $1.5 billion by the end of the decade, green-technology research firm Pike Research estimated in a late-2010 report.

Meanwhile, the federal government is periodically releasing funds earmarked for projects that will help vehicle makers reach progressively more stringent greenhouse-gas emissions standards over the next few years. Late last month, the DOE said it would fund $14.2 million for the development of materials such as carbon-fiber composites and high-strength steel and aluminum that would reduce vehicle weight. Last month, the DOE also said it would invest as much as $10 million to accelerate the development of battery-electric trucks, forklifts and cargo vehicles.