BMW has announced it will shortly start production on electric vehicles offering contactless charging, which it claims is a world first.
The system will enable electric energy from the mains supply to be transmitted to a vehicle’s high-voltage battery without any cables – when the vehicle is positioned over a base pad.
It will initially be offered with the BMW 530e, and after launching in Germany in July, the UK will be next country it is introduced in.
Available to customers as an option, BMW Wireless Charging consists of a Inductive Charging Station (GroundPad), which can be installed either in a garage or outdoors, and a secondary vehicle component (CarPad) fixed to the underside of the vehicle.
The contactless transfer of energy between the GroundPad and CarPad is conducted over a distance of around eight centimetres. The GroundPad generates a magnetic field, and in the CarPad an electric current is induced, which then charges the high-voltage battery.
The system has a charging power of 3.2 kW, enabling the high-voltage batteries on board the BMW 530e iPerformance to be fully charged in around three-and-a-half hours.
In a statement BMW said the principal benefit is the unrivalled ease of use, as drivers no longer need to hook up their plug-in car using a cable in order to replenish its battery.
Instead, as soon as the vehicle has been parked in the correct position above the inductive Charging Station, the charging process is started by pressing a button. Once the battery is fully charged, the system switches off automatically.
BMW Wireless Charging also helps the driver to manoeuvre into the correct parking position via a WiFi connection from the charging station to the vehicle. An overhead view of the car and its surroundings appears in the vehicle’s control display with coloured lines that help guide the driver while parking. A graphic icon shows when the correct parking position for inductive charging has been reached.