Car magazine reports that BMW’s wireless inductive charging system will go into production in July and be available in Europe by the end of the summer. We queried BMW USA about the inductive charger coming to the U.S. and were told, “Yes we are bringing the charging pad also to the U.S.” We expect our market to follow a similar timeline.
However, there won’t be a purchase option; the charging mat will be a lease option for the 530e iPerformance in Europe, and in the U.S., BMW said “it will be a pilot program limited to the 530e in California only.” Car said leasing is the overwhelming choice for plug-in 5 Series drivers in Western Europe, which is likely why BMW chose a lease-only option for a brand new technology that it will eventually roll out to all of its PHEV models.
The system comprises a primary coil inside in an aluminum plate wrapped in plastic that sits on the floor, and smaller secondary coil inside a pad placed into the base of the 530e sedan between the front wheels. The floor mat dimensions are roughly 35 inches long, 31.5 inches wide, and 2.4 inches thick, the car-mounted pad is roughly 11.8 inches square 0.8 inches thick. The floor mat must be plugged into a 220-volt outlet, and can transmit 3.2 kilowatts of power to the secondary coil. That will charge the 530e’s 9.2-kW battery in 3.5 hours, compared to a charge time of three hours for the hard-wired 3.7-kW BMW i Wallbox.
An in-car display on the infotainment screen helps drivers position the vehicle over the mat. Approaching the mat, two blue lines appear on a front camera image so as to line up the path. When about three feet away, the picture changes to a graphic, and the driver places the green ball representing the car atop the blue circle representing the coil in the floor mat. Pressing a button inside the car starts charging, and Wi-Fi communication with an app keeps an owner updated on progress. The mat is sealed to work indoors or outside, will automatically turn off if it detects an interfering object like a cat, and is said to emit less electromagnetic radiation than a hotplate.
The Munich carmaker first spoke of the charging system in 2014, then showed it at the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show. BMW worked with Daimler on the technology because a common technology will help both companies, and a Mercedes-Benz version for the S560e sedan is expected to be revealed later this year. At last eight other automakers are working on similar solutions, and a 2014 survey expected the market to buy more than 350,000 inductive units by 2020.