BMW group and Daimler have announced a joint venture to develop a standardised form of inductive charging, ultimately enabling electric vehicle drivers to recharge their cars wirelessly.
Both manufacturers have expressed their belief that wireless charging is the future for energy supply to electric transport. This collaboration will ensure that inductive charging technology is standardised, in anticipation of its eventual mass roll-out.
The system is still in the prototype stage but BMW and Daimler state that it will initially offer a Slow charge (3.6kW) with a 90% rate of efficiency; enough to charge the majority of plug-in hybrids in under 3 hours. A demonstration using a fully working prototype provided a full charge to a BMW i8 in under 2 hours.
The main benefit of wireless charging is the convenience of not having to manually plug your vehicle in. Charging inductively by nature is cable free and can be activated with the press of a button.
Inductive charging relies on aligning the secondary coil (located at the base of the vehicle) and the primary coil (built into the ground e.g. the garage floor). Data is transmitted via Wi-Fi to aid the driver in making this alignment correctly.
The wireless charging facility can be used in all weather conditions, including rain and snow, catering for outdoor installations. Furthermore, ambient electromagnetic radiation is kept to an absolute minimum during the charging process. The space between the primary and secondary coils is monitored constantly, meaning the electromagnetic charge can be shut off if a foreign body is identified.
Dailmer has indicated it will commence fleet testing of the wireless technology with the S500 plug-in hybrid, which is due to be launched later on this year.