BMW have become the first in market to offer wireless charging for an electric vehicle. From this week it will be possible to order a 530e iPerformance that will power up through an inductive charging station called a GroundPad.
Here's how it works. The GroundPad connects to its car equivalent (called a CarPad, of course) and transfers energy over a distance of roughly eight centimetres via a magnetic field. This creates an electric current in the CarPad which subsequently charges the battery.
It has 3.2Kw of charging power with an efficiency rating of 85 per cent, which takes around three and a half hours to fully charge the 530e. Charging will begin once the car has been turned off and it will stop once the battery is at 100%.
The GroundPad is designed for for multiple weather conditions, meaning that it can be installed outdoors, as well as in a garage. All GroundPad components that conduct electrcity are protected from rain and snow.
You can also run it over without causing damage, though it has also been designed with park assist functionality. Once there is a Wi-Fi connection between the car and the GroundPad, a birds eye view of the car will pop up on the control display - including lines that guide the driver towards the correct parking position for charging.
It will be interesting to see if this technology takes off and how quickly other auto manufacturers will scramble to release their own versions. In 2017 Mercedes-Benz announced its plans for a wireless charging system for its EVs that would reportedly be released this year - so that will be worth keeping an eye on.
Personally, I'm sceptical when it comes to wireless charging in general. While I like the concept, the charging is still too slow to be convenient, particularly in regards to phones.
And while the GroundPad is clearly designed to charge an EV overnight, I will continue to have reservations about wireless charging technology until it can offer similar speeds to when something is simply plugged in.
The GroundPad is currently available in BMW 530e iPerformance vehicles in Germany and will be rolled out to the UK, US, Japan and China in the near future. There is no current timeline for when this wireless charging system will be available in Australia.