Hybrids

BMW launches 2019 5 Series plug-in hybrid wireless charging pilot in California

Only 200 eligible California residents will be able to take advantage of this program.

The wireless charger operates only slightly slower than the BMW i Wallbox, adding only 30 minutes or so to top off the 530e's small battery.

BMW

In late 2017, BMW announced its first wireless-charging pilot program, which started in Germany. Using 2018 530e plug-in hybrid models, it marked BMW's first foray into helping owners ditch plugs in favor of magnetic induction. We knew it would come to the US, we just didn't know when. Apparently, that time is now.

BMW announced this week that it will launch a 5 Series wireless charging pilot in the US. The pilot will be available only in California, and it will be limited to just 200 residential homeowners who have an enclosed garage space. In order to determine whether you're eligible, BMW has an online questionnaire to fill out. Qmerit will handle the installation of the wireless charging pad and, thankfully, BMW will pick up the tabs for installation, maintenance and subsequent removal at lease termination.

Don't expect a free car, though. You'll have to shell out for a 36-month lease on a 2019-model-year BMW 530e. The cars are available in white, black or blue, and they come loaded with a good amount of equipment, including leather upholstery and the necessary wireless charging hardware. It also packs the M Sport package, which adds 19-inch BMW M wheels, keyless entry, black exterior trim, a power tailgate, heated front seats and LED fog lights. The 530e is also loaded with all manner of active and passive safety equipment.

Not the best parker in the world? Fear not, the infotainment system is here to help, with guidelines that tell you precisely where to park over the charging pad.

BMW

Initiating charging is nice and easy. Parking over the wireless charging pad will start the process without any further steps required on the driver's part. The pad generates a magnetic field, which the car converts to electricity to charge its battery. The system charges at 3.2 kilowatts with an efficiency of about 85%, which is enough to fill up the 530e's battery in about 3.5 hours.

You don't have to eyeball the parking job, either, even though the car can deviate from the optimum charging position by up to 2.75 inches longitudinally and up to 5.5 inches laterally. The charging hardware and vehicle connect over Wi-Fi, and a display appears on the infotainment screen with guide lines telling the driver how to park over the pad. It can be installed indoors or outdoors, and driving over the pad won't hurt it. If anything is detected within the pad's magnetic field that isn't a car, it will switch itself off.

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