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Come over to my pad: BMW wireless car charging coming soon

Published: 30 May 2018

► Charging without wires
► BMW 5-series gets it first
► Production starts July 2018 

The latest tech news from Munich: BMW will begin building its world-first production-ready inductive charging systems in July 2018 – and it’s set to work with many of the firm’s plug-in hybrid models (PHEVs).

It'll consist of two parts - a Groundpad and a Carpad in BMW parlance - with the former sitting on the ground below your plug-in hybrid and the latter connecting to the car's electrical backbone. 

BMW claims a 3.5-hour charge is possible with a charge rate of ‘up to 3.2kW’, and at around 85% efficiency between the pad and the car. 

There’s no indication yet when the tech hits UK BMW showrooms at this point, or indeed how much it’ll cost until market-specific details arrive; we’re told before the end of summer 2018. But BMW sources told CAR magazine that the tech is indeed headed for right-hand drive markets, and will be available exclusively on a leasing deal with a 5-series 530e iPerformance.

To start with, that is…

CAR magazine lives with a BMW i3 electric car

Read our guide to wireless car charging

Cut to the chase: will it charge my i8 Roadster wirelessly at home and how much does it cost?

Err… probably, and it won’t be available to buy to begin with. Only to lease, remember.

The tech has been designed to work with the company’s most recent PHEVs, but to begin with this is a toe in the water – especially since there’s no recognised multi-company standard for inductive charging yet. No-one knows how the universal virtual plug of the future will work, in other words, and to avoid another scenario where each car company has its own equivalent of unique cables and attachments, making public and workplace charging difficult, it’s a slowly-slowly approach for now.

The reason behind the leasing stipulation is a simple matter of economics – the overwhelming majority of plug-in 5-ers in Western Europe are ‘owned’ this way, so it stands to reason that the best way of introducing this relatively expensive range anxiety-busting tech is to use the same financing model for this.

We’ve already seen wireless charging tech in concept form, as you can see in the video below. 

Great. But will it fry my cat?

Clearly this is something BMW has thought about in some detail. After all, animals in general are well-known to make use of a parked car’s residual heat. But you’ll be pleased to learn that Munich’s best minds have been put to work to safeguard against this sort of issue.

The system simply uses a proximity sensor to cut the charging. Logic dictates your tech-laden 530e will then fire the fact it’s not charging direct to your mobile, though we’ve yet to get confirmation of this.

What we do know is that the car’s parking cameras will ‘guide’ you into the proper position for charging. It won’t be automated, but we’re told the operation will be far, far simpler than you might expect… 

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By Gareth Evans

Contributor, historic racer and associate editor on our sister website Parkers.co.uk