BMW i launches a factory-fitted, fully integrated inductive charging facility for the high-voltage battery in a plug-in hybrid vehicle. Production is said to start in July.
BMW’s wireless charging enables electric energy from the mains supply to be transmitted to a vehicle’s high-voltage battery without any cables – when the vehicle is positioned over a base pad. This can be installed in the garage, for example, and the charging process can be started as soon as the vehicle has been parked in position (without any further input from the driver). The launch of this technology sees the BMW Group move another step closer to an infrastructure that will make charging the battery of an electrified vehicle even simpler than refuelling a car with a conventional engine.
BMW’s wireless charging consists of an inductive charging station (GroundPad), which can be installed either in a garage or outdoors, and a secondary vehicle component (CarPad) fixed to the underside of the vehicle. The contactless transfer of energy between the GroundPad and CarPad is conducted over a distance of around eight centimetres. The GroundPad generates a magnetic field. In the CarPad, an electric current is induced, which then charges the high-voltage battery.
The system has a charging power of 3.2 kW, enabling the high-voltage batteries on board the BMW 530e iPerformance to be fully charged in around three-and-a-half hours. It has an efficiency rate of around 85 percent.
Similar to the ones used in mobile phones and electric toothbrushes, the same technology recharges the high-voltage batteries in electrified vehicles. A driver has to park the vehicle in the correct position above the inductive charging station, push a button and the charging gets initiated. A WiFi system enables the driver to manoeuvre the vehicle correctly into the position. The optimum position can deviate by up to seven centimetres longitudinally and up to 14 centimetres laterally.
The GroundPad can also be installed outdoors, where it may be used regardless of the weather conditions. All components that conduct electricity are protected from rain and snow, and driving over the GroundPad will not damage it in any way. During charging, ambient electromagnetic radiation is limited to the vehicle undercarriage. The GroundPad is permanently monitored and will be switched off if any foreign matters are detected. The BMW Group also offers an installation service for BMW Wireless Charging, on request.
In its role as one of the co-founders of the IONITY joint venture, the BMW Group is currently teaming up with other carmakers to set up a Europe-wide fast-charging network with up to 350kW charging power for electric vehicles that should boast around 400 stations by 2020. In addition, the ChargeNow service, originally launched by BMW I, now offers access to more than 130,000 aggregated charging points in 32 countries. It is one of the largest global networks of its kind.