With electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles now firmly established in the public consciousness, BMW and Mercedes-Benz are ready to introduce us to the next step toward the mainstream-ification of electrified vehicles: wireless charging.
Also known as “inductive charging,” this technology already exists for smartphones, but those two German automakers have co-developed a wireless charging setup that can charge your car – in this case, PHEV versions of the BMW 5 Series and forthcoming Benz S-Class – simply by parking atop a pad installed on the garage floor.
BMW says its latest PHEV model, the 530e iPerformance, will charge to full in about 3.5 hours using the brand’s inductive charging system; plugging in to BMW’s traditional wired charging station is a little quicker, at three hours.
On the Mercedes-Benz side, it’s the S-Class PHEV that will be first to be offered with inductive charging, but the company says the current cost of technology means it will be an extra-cost option even on that luxury flagship.
The BMW 530e has a four-cylinder engine and electric motor that produce a combined 248 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque, at a $66,900 starting price. Mercedes-Benz hasn’t yet announced an arrival date for its S-Class hybrid.
While both cars will use the same inductive charging setup, Benz says it’s not clear yet whether the solution it has cooked up with BMW will become an industry standard or if we’re looking at a drawn-out, VHS-versus-Beta fight to the death.
It looks like this first inductive charging system will be available in Europe first, as it hasn’t received a green light from Underwriters Laboratories, the U.S.-based organization that conducts safety testing and certification for electrical devices.