Say goodbye to plugging in hefty cables: BMW is experimenting with an inductive charging system for electric cars. The wireless charging device would potentially allow drivers to juice-up their plug-in hybrid or electric car simply by parking it over a charging pad in the ground.
The BMW inductive charging system uses a base plate on the ground with an electrical coil, and another receiving coil in the floor of the plug-in vehicle. BMW says its prototype charger is 90 percent efficient and could fully charge a BMW i8 battery in under two hours, while the all-electric BMW i3 could be fully charged overnight.
The system reportedly works no matter the weather conditions, including in snow or rain, and can detect if “foreign bodies” get in between the car and its charging pad — prevent transmitting radiation into, say, a cat that strayed underneath your BMW i8. The charging pad communicates with a plug-in car over Wi-Fi, with symbols and graphics displayed within the car to help the driver position his or her vehicle in the right spot for charging. Once the car is parked, the driver simply pushes a button to start recharging the car’s battery. Unlike today’s electric-car charging stations, no cables need to be connected.
The BMW inductive charging system is still in the development phase, but the German automaker isn’t the only company pursuing the idea of wireless charging for future electric cars. The Infiniti LE electric car concept shown at the 2012 New York auto show had inductive charging, and both Volvo and Toyota are experimenting with similar systems.