BMW's i division has launched a wireless charging system for plug-in hybrid vehicles. The factory-fitted, fully-integrated inductive charging system is a world-first. BMW says that production for BMW Wireless Charging will begin in July and is available for order now, for the 530e iPerformance model.
The charging option is set as a lease in Germany and will become available in the United Kingdom, United States, Japan, and China in subsequent rollouts. The BMW Wireless Charging system uses inductive charging through electromagnetic fields to charge a high-voltage in-vehicle battery without cables.
A base pad is placed on the parking space and plugged into the power source. When the vehicle is parked over the top of the pad, inductive charging begins charging its batteries with no plug tethering of the vehicle required. The driver can simply step into the car and pull away at any time without unplugging or stowing a plug and cord.
BMW Wireless Charging will be offered as an option on BMW plug-in vehicles, starting with the 530e. Installation of the Inductive Charging Station (aka "GroundPad") can be anywhere the vehicle owner will use it most often, such as in a garage, a driveway, or corporate parking space. BMW says that the GroundPad is weatherproof and works in most any atmospheric condition.
A CarPad is affixed to the vehicle's underside as a receiver for the inductive charging, installed as part of the charging system's lease, with a distance of about 8 cm (3.15 inches) between them. The magnetic field of the GroundPad creates an electric current in the CarPad which is used to charge the vehicle's battery.
BMW says that the system has a charging power of 3.2 kW, making for a three-and-a-half hour charge time in the 530e iPerformance with an efficiency of about 85 percent. Communications between the vehicle and the GroundPad charging device are conducted over secure Wi-Fi. The driver is guided into parking position via an overhead view of the car (ala a 360-degree parking camera) with colored lines indicating the best placement for optimum charge efficiency over the pad. Deviation from optimum position can be up to seven cm (2.75 inches) longitudinally and 14 cm (5.5 inches) laterally.
Safety features include buffering to hold all radiation from the GroundPad to underneath the car, so it does not affect the driver or passengers. Sensors will also shut off the charging system if foreign matter is detected on the ground pad.
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