When will charging your electric car be as convenient as charging your phone?
This summer, if BMW has its way. The company says it will be the first to lease a wireless inductive charging system in the U.S. for its 530e plug-in hybrid. Customers can order the system now, and BMW says it will be delivered in Europe starting in July and that it should roll out to American customers by the end of 2018.
The system consists of two parts, a wireless charging Ground Pad that plugs into a wall in a customer's garage, and a wireless receiver Car Pad mounted to the underside of the front of the car.
When a driver pulls into his or her garage, the car will connect with the Ground Pad and display a bird's-eye view of the car and the Ground Pad on the car's central display. Guide lines on the screen that show the front of the car (just like rearview camera lines), to help the driver place the car over the pad. A graphic confirmation appears on the screen when the car is centered correctly over the target.
2018 BMW 530e iPerformance wireless charging
The wireless inductive charging unit works similarly to a Qi charging pad for cell phones or to an electric toothbrush.
It charges at 3.2 kw, BMW says, enough to charge the car's 9.2-kwh battery pack in less than four hours. The EPA rates the 530e at 16 miles of electric range on a charge. Drivers can also plug in the 530e using a standard connector, though charging isn't any faster.
The wireless charging system will be available only on rear-wheel-drive 530e sDrive models.
Mercedes-Benz introduced wireless charging in 2016 on its S560e plug-in hybrid in Europe, but the system is not available in the U.S.