One of the main hindrances of battery-electric vehicles is the fact they have to be plugged in on a semi-regular basis. Well, BMW is hoping to remove this nuisance by way of a wireless battery charging system the company will trail in the U.S.
BMW’s wireless charging mat is not new. The company began customer trails last year in Germany, but is now bringing the trial to the U.S. BMW customers in California who lease a 2019 530e iPerformance will be eligible to participate in the trial, so long as they have an enclosed garage. BMW is selecting only 200 customers for the trial.
The technology found within BMW’s charging mat is similar to that of smartphones. Basically the mat plugs into the home’s commercial power and contains a large coil that transfers energy to a smaller coil found on a pad underneath the car via magnetic energy. The system transfers power at a rate of 3.2 kilowatts; enough to charge the 9.2-kwH battery pack in the 530i to 85 percent in about 3.5 hours.
What’s cool about the charging mat is its ability to communicate to the driver about how to successfully drive the car onto it. The car shows where the charging mat needs to end up via the surround view camera system, while guidelines on the rear-view camera also ensure the driver is lining up for the charge.
If the trail is successful, BMW may rollout the system to more models and additional models. It is worth mentioning that this system may not be ideal for battery-electric vehicles until BMW is able to increase the power transfer beyond the current 3.2 kW rate.