Mercedes-Benz S550e wireless charging comes into focus


Mercedes-Benz wireless inductive charging system

Mercedes-Benz wireless inductive charging system

Enlarge Photo

The Mercedes-Benz S550e plug-in hybrid luxury sedan will likely be the first production car to offer wireless charging as a factory option.

The availability of wireless charging was announced earlier this year by Mercedes as part of a significant update of the current-generation car.

We now know that the S550e will use a version of the Qualcomm Halo system, built under license by a third party.

DON'T MISS: Mercedes-Benz S550e plug-in hybrid to offer wireless charging

That party was not named, with a Qualcomm press release only saying that it would be a "Tier 1 power electronics supplier."

Qualcomm has an existing arrangement with the Mercedes Formula One team to supply equipment for data acquisition.

Like many other current wireless-charging systems, the Qualcomm Halo is an inductive system that relies on a simple principle of electromagnetism.

Mercedes-Benz wireless inductive charging system

Mercedes-Benz wireless inductive charging system

Enlarge Photo

Running electricity through a coil of wire creates a magnetic field, which allows current to be transferred between two coils without any physical connection.

One coil is housed in a base plate that sits on the ground, while the other is housed in a receiver on the car's underside.

For home users, the base plates are bolted to the garage floor, with the wire providing power usually running through a trench in the concrete.

ALSO SEE: Plugless charging for 80 percent of electric cars by end of 2017: Evatran

Mercedes previously said the system would have an efficiency rate of 90 percent for transfer of electricity from a power source to a car.

The system in the S550e is rated at 3.6 kilowatts, which is somewhat low compared to charging systems for all-electric cars.

That may be why Mercedes chose to introduce the feature on a plug-in hybrid.

Mercedes-Benz wireless inductive charging system

Mercedes-Benz wireless inductive charging system

Enlarge Photo

In addition to the wireless-charging option, the S550e is expected to get a boost in battery-pack size from 8.7 kilowatt-hours to 13.5 kWh.

While other carmakers have shown wireless charging on various concept cars, Mercedes seems to be the only one with concrete plans to offer the feature on a production model.

MORE: How wireless charging works for electric cars, explained

A version of the Qualcomm Halo system that will be used in the S550e was also retrofitted to a BMW i8 plug-in hybrid used as a pace car in the Formula E electric-car race series.

However, BMW has not discussed any plans to offer wireless charging on the production i8.

Nor has it suggested it as an option for its 7-Series, 3-Series, or 5-Series plug-in hybrid sedans.

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