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BMW Wants to Charge EVs with a Wireless Pad

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【Summary】So far, only a handful of BMW’s EVs will receive the wireless charging pad. It has been confirmed that the 530e, 330e, 740e and X5 will get wireless charging capabilities.

Michael Cheng    Oct 04, 2017 4:46 PM PT
BMW Wants to Charge EVs with a Wireless Pad

Without needing to stop at gas stations to refuel, electric vehicles (EVs) provide an extra layer of convenience for people who have direct access to plug-in outlets and nearby charging stations.

Since the introduction of EVs, drivers have been using traditional cords and bulky attachments, when recharging automotive power cells. Making the EV charging process more seamless is top priority of auto manufacturers in the sector. Some groups are rolling out NFC-powered charging for wireless features at public charging hubs; while others, such as BMW, are focusing on bringing wireless charging to the homes of customers.

Cordless Charging

BMW's wireless charging features are facilitated by a small pad, which sits on the floor of one's garage. To activate the unit, the EV must drive over it. Inside the car, the system guides the vehicle using a visual indicator on the infotainment screen. After lining up the car with the pad, the driver simply turns off the vehicle. Charging will start automatically after the car has been shut down.

A full charge takes roughly 3.5 hours at a rate of 3.2 kW. Taking charging performance into consideration, wired-charging is considered to be better. However, the major selling point of not needing to use cables and the pad's automated charging features will likely attract a plethora of tech-savvy consumers.

So far, only a handful of BMW's EVs will receive the charging pad. It has been confirmed that the 530e, 330e, 740e and X5 will get wireless charging capabilities. The only guaranteed model with a release date set is the 530e (slated for next year). Currently, the automaker is working on finalizing meticulous requirements for approval by regulators in the US and Canada.

"BMW does plan to role the wireless charging system to its other models including the 330e, 740e, and X5, but no dates have been set. Only the 530e is guaranteed to get it as an option next year. For the US and Canada, the system still needs to be approved so it could take a bit longer to arrive in those territories," said Matthew Humphries from PC Mag.

Other Wireless EV Solutions

BMW is not the only business in the EV industry that will offer wireless charging. Mercedes-Benz has its own wireless charging solution for its fleet of EVs and plug-in hybrids. The S550e will be the first model to receive the feature, which will be powered by the Qualcomm Halo system. This arrangement solidifies the ongoing partnership between the two groups (specifically Qualcomm as a data equipment supplier for Mercedes Formula One).

Wireless charging is the latest standard set by hardware manufacturers in the tech industry. Automotive brands are expected to adopt Qi charging protocols for powering up handheld devices inside cars. Instead of using a USB port, or a low voltage, 12V DC car port charger, passengers will be able to charge their mobile phones and portable music players by placing their device on a pad. Volvo's 2018 XC40 will make use of this feature, with the charging station located below the infotainment panel. 

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