BMW is extending the BMW 530e wireless charging pilot program to North America, starting in California.
Introduced in 2018, the 530e is the plug-in hybrid member of the 5 Series, and the company is signing up 200 customers to test out induction charging in partnership with Qmerit, the Irvine, California start-up whose cloud-based platform help facilitate relationships between companies, suppliers and customers.
Also initiated in 2018, the pilot induction charging program simplifies the charging process for owners by allowing them to simply drive the properly equipped 530e into their garages, positioning the car over an induction ground pad and set the transmission in Park. Charging is initiated without any further input from the driver. The technology is already used in wireless mobile phone charging and electric toothbrushes.
An overhead view of the car on the instrument panel display helps the driver guide the driver into the correct position to initiate charging. The position doesn’t have to be exact, able to deviate by 70 mm lengthwise and up to 140 mm sideways.
Interested customers simply fill out an online questionnaire to determine if their location is suitable to allow them to participate in the program — charging must take place in an enclosed garage and the local electric grid has to be suitable. Confirmed drivers are issued a confirmation number to take to one of 33 participating dealerships where they complete a 36-month lease for a 2019 BMW 530e. Qmerit then contacts the customer to set up installation of the residential charging hardware.
BMW covers all costs, expenses and expenditures associated with the initial installation, maintenance and de-installation of the GroundPad Module. The other part of the induction charging process is a vehicle component (CarPad) affixed to the undercarriage. Wireless charging takes place over a distance of 75 mm, with the GroundPad generating a magnetic field inducing an electric current in the CarPad, which charges the car’s high-voltage lithium ion battery.
The system has a charging power of 3.2 kW, meaning the 530e’s 9.2-kWh battery is fully charged in about 3.5 hours, with an efficiency rating of about 85%. The system shuts down automatically when the battery is fully charged.
The GroundPad can also be installed outside without worry of its being damaged, since all electrical components are protected from the elements. During charging, the GroundPad will automatically shut itself off if any foreign conductive material is detected.