2018 BMW 530e iPerformance wireless chargingEnlarge Photo
Ask an electric-car owner how long it takes to charge the car, and you may get an answer you didn't expect.
"Oh, five or 10 seconds," is a common response from experienced drivers of plug-in vehicles—meaning the time it takes to plug in.
Statistically, that happens most often at night, so the car is fully charged and offers maximum range by the next morning.
Plugging in isn't difficult, and it's often cleaner than using a gasoline hose to refuel a car.
Owners can use the car's own charging cord, or install a 240-volt Level 2 charging station where they park.
But there's another way to charge, known as wireless or inductive charging.
Weigh in: wireless charging or plugs for electric cars?— Green Car Reports (@GreenCarReports) October 4, 2017
Now two German plug-in hybrid luxury sedans will offer wireless charging sometime next year, the first time it has been offered as a factory option on plug-in electric cars that will be sold in the U.S.
That means wireless charging will start to enter the broader discussion of features and options among electric-car buyers.
To be fair, Plugless Power has offered wireless charging as an aftermarket option for popular electric cars including the Nissan Leaf and Tesla Model S.
Whether from the factory or installed afterward, inductive charging requires installation of a pad over which the car parks.
That pad, which must be plugged into a source of electricity, contains a coil.
When charging is initiated, software in the car communicates with that in the pad, and power is transmitted across the short distance between the coil in the pad and a corresponding coil mounted under the car.
No charging cords or plugging in are required.
Automakers envision future self-parking cars that will automatically position themselves over the pad in the right way, eliminating the need for a driver to align the car precisely in a pre-set spot.
Our question—and the topic of this week's Twitter poll for our followers—is about the value that wireless charging adds to an electric car.
Is it better than plugging in? Or are cords all you need? Or somewhere in between. Vote in the poll, and let us know your thoughts.