Some carmakers have experimented with wireless charging, and certain third-party suppliers offer systems that can be retrofitted to existing vehicles.

But Mercedes-Benz may be the first automaker to offer the technology on a production model.

The Mercedes-Benz S550e plug-in hybrid luxury sedan will get optional wireless charging as part of an upcoming set of changes and upgrades to the current-generation car.

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The updated S-Class will likely go on sale here next year as a 2018 model.

Mercedes hybrid powertrain boss Jochen Strenkert originally said back in March that wireless charging would be offered on the S550e (sold as the S500e in Europe), but this is the first time it has been officially discussed by the carmaker.

Tests were run last year using a fleet of S-Class plug-in hybrids.

Mercedes-Benz wireless inductive charging system

Mercedes-Benz wireless inductive charging system

Wireless, or inductive, charging systems like the one that will be used on the S550e rely on a simple principle of electromagnetism.

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 on the ground, the other in a receiver mounted on the car's underside.

ALSO SEE: How wireless charging works for electric cars, explained

Mercedes claims an efficiency rate of more than 90 percent for transfer of electricity from power source to car.

The Mercedes system 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

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 the S550e is the only model confirmed to get wireless charging, Mercedes says all of its plug-in models (which now include the GLE 550e and the C 350e) will get DC fast charging by calendar year 2018, using the Combined Charging Standard (CCS).

MORE: 2015 Mercedes-Benz S550e Plug-In Hybrid: Quick Drive (Dec 2015)

The CCS standard is preferred by most U.S. and German carmakers, with Japanese and Korean carmakers preferring the CHAdeMO standard, and Tesla continuing to use its own Supercharger standard.

Mercedes now says CCS charging stations and onboard chargers can handle 150-kilowatt charging, something discussed by rivals Audi and Porsche for electric cars to be introduced in 2018 or thereabouts.

It also claims that CCS equipment can eventually be upgraded to allow charging at rates as high as 350 kw.


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