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News, Technology | May 15, 2017

Wireless charging for BMW 5 Series hybrid in 2018

Wireless charging is, for the most part, still something that requires an aftermarket solution. But BMW will offer its own setup starting with the 5 Series in 2018.

The 2018 BMW 530e plug-in hybrid will be able to wirelessly charge its battery using a BMW-branded induction pad. It can be installed in the open or under cover. Once it’s connected to power, the 530e will position itself over the pad such that a current can transmit wirelessly from pad to vehicle. You can thank electromagnetic induction for this trick little setup. An induction coil in the pad creates an alternating electromagnetic field. The car parks atop that first coil and that field then creates an electric current in a second coil in the car, which is used to charge the battery.

The wireless charging pad will permit a charge rate of up to 3.2 kW. That’s only slightly less powerful than BMW’s i Wallbox, which provides 3.7 kW charging. It should take about 3.5 hours to wirelessly charge the 530e’s 9.2-kWh battery, as opposed to 3 hours flat using BMW’s hardwired solution.

It’s a clever system, no doubt, but there are still some questions. It’s not due to hit the market until 2018, and BMW wasn’t willing to confirm whether or not it will be available in the US, or just in Europe. Furthermore, nobody’s really sure how much this will cost, and whether the charging pad must be purchased independently of any vehicle option that enables wireless charging.

BMW’s wireless charging system couldn’t come at a better time. Its primary competitor, Mercedes-Benz, intends to unveil its own wireless charging solution for a plug-in hybrid variant of the S-Class flagship sedan. That should happen in 2018, as well.

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