- Imagine an electric car that doesn't need cables...
- BMW will be the first company to make this tech work
- More details to follow, but will only be available to lease
Over the next few months BMW will be launching an industry-first for its plug-in cars: wireless car charging.
Also known as inductive charging, this new technology does away with the necessity to plug a physical cable into your car. Instead, simply park above your wireless pad - which BMW calls Groundpad - and the firm's new system will be able to recharge your car in as little as 3.5 hours at a rate of up to 3.2kW.
The firm is also claiming up to 85% efficiency from the system, which works very much like the wireless charging pads for smartphones that are starting to find their way into our cars and homes.
How does wireless car charging work?
BMW’s approach sounds simple: the car will be able to ‘tell’ you exactly where to park your car relative to the Groundpad, which logic dictates will be where you normally park your car. This is shown on the iDrive screen, illustrating where you need to be from a bird's-eye view.
There’s no system to integrate automatic parking just yet, though. We’re told it’s so easy to park your 530e iPerformance that it’s simply not needed.
Your car needs a pad too, which BMW is calling a Carpad, which is fixed to the bottom of the vehicle. This technology has been designed to last, so it works in rain and snow, can be fully run over by the car without damage and will stop charging if anything gets lodged between car and chargepad - such as a cat looking for a warm spot to sleep.
An installation service is likely to be offered so you can make the most of this system based on your personal circumstances at home.
How much will wireless car charging cost?
It’s not clear at this point. In fact, we’ve been led to believe that to start with this technology can only be leased alongside the 530e iPerformance. This is because it’s the only car that will be equipped with the tech, since the vast majority are leased in Europe so it makes the most sense.
The simple fact is that it’s very early days – the major car companies still need to agree on an industry standard for this technology before public car parks and the like will be so equipped.
That’s the point at which inductive charging becomes extremely interesting, because without having to physically plug your car in, the disadvantages of using a plug-in hybrid diminish dramatically. Imagine never having to visit a filling station again. That’s a realistic aspiration for many business drivers' commutes based on average car usage statistics.
When will I be able to wirelessly charge my car?
Again, we don’t know at this point, but more information will be available soon ahead of Parkers trying this new tech for ourselves.
Production will begin in July 2018, but it's likely to be 2019 before we see this tech in BMW dealers. Germany will get it first, followed by the UK, USA, Japan and China.