BMW has announced the expansion of its inductive charging program to the U.S. market, which will allow owners of the 530e iPerformance plug-in hybrid sedan to wirelessly charge their vehicle’s lithium-ion battery. The program will be available only in California. Originally introduced in 2018, BMW limited the wireless charging program to Germany, its home market, before its expansion to other markets.
Spots for qualified California residents will be limited to 200 units, according to BMW. The automaker has also set up a questionnaire asking about owners’ local electrical grids and their garage space to determine eligibility. If deemed eligible, the customer will get a confirmation number to take to one of 33 BMW dealers in California to complete a 36-month lease for a 530e.
Qmerit will complete hardware installation in the garage with all costs and maintenance covered by BMW. Once the 3.2-kW ground pad is installed, an electrified BMW vehicle like the 530e can charge wirelessly by parking over it. Charging starts once the vehicle is over the pad and will turn off once the battery is full. It takes the ground pad three and a half hours to fully charge the BMW 530e iPerformance’s 9.2-kilowatt-hour battery pack. If small objects are detected by the ground pad, it will immediately turn off.
The BMW 530e iPerformance plug-in hybrid is available in rear- or all-wheel-drive configurations. It utilizes a 2.0-liter turbo-four coupled to an electric motor, a lithium-ion battery, and an eight-speed automatic transmission. Combined output is 248 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque. On a single charge, the 530e can travel up to 16 miles in EV mode while the 530e xDrive can go up to 15 miles before the gas engine kicks in.
The system works with a wireless charging pad that’s designed to be put on the floor of a garage. When the BMW 530e pulls near the pad, guidance lines shown on a top-down view of the car through one of the dashboard displays help the driver position it.
In place, the car charges via a wireless power receiver mounted underneath, avoiding the need to plug it in manually. Although its 3.2 kW charging rate is not as quick as a wired charger could be – taking roughly 3.5 hours to fully charge the 530e’s battery – the convenience is expected to be the primary draw. After all, with most EV charging taking place at home, anything which makes that process easier has to be a good thing.
What BMW wouldn’t say last year is just when the wireless charging system would be available in the US. Now, through a pilot program operated by Qmerit, the first 530e drivers will have access. That is, assuming they live in California and satisfy a couple of other criteria.
The pilot, spotted by BMW Blog, is available to people leasing a 530e only. The wireless charger must be located in an enclosed garage, and Qmerit will be assessing the type of garage and home to make sure they’re both suitable. It will also look at the nature of the home’s electric grid connection, to ensure that’s up to the job too.
The good news is that those considered eligible for the program is that BMW will be footing the bill for the installation, maintenance, and de-installation of the Ground Pad Module, or GPM, the pad that sits on the floor. That has to be hardwired to the home’s electric panel, and can’t just be plugged into an outlet. Those in the pilot also agree to give the GPM back at the end of their lease.
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