BMW is bringing wireless charging to its electric cars in 2018

Apple might be making a noise about wireless charging with the iPhone X and iPhone 8, but BMW wants to steal some of Cupertino’s thunder by showing off a giant inductive charging mat for its electric cars.

While wireless charging for electric vehicles is nothing new, it has yet to become readily available to the consumer market. But BMW, clearly tapping into its work with Qualcomm to produce charging pads for the BMW i3 and i8 safety cars uses in the Formula E racing series, plans to bring its wireless charging pad to the market in 2018.

Using inductive charging the pad uses BMW Wireless Charging tech to provide electrical juice to the company’s plug-in hybrid vehicles without needing to plug a compatible car into a charging socket.

Once the BMW pad is connected to a 220V power outlet, all a driver needs to do is position their hybrid electric BMW over the charging pad, aided by visual positioning from BMW’s iDrive system. From there the inductive pad to works its electrical magic, or more correctly works its physics, as it charges the vehicle’s Lithium-ion battery by generating a magnetic field between the pad’s electrical coil and another on the car’s floor allowing for 3.2kW of power to to be transferred to the car wirelessly.

The pad will be initially available for the BMW 530e iPerformance, and through using what is essentially an up-rated version of the wireless charging tech found in some smartphones, the car can be filled up with electricity within 3.5 hours.

BMW’s wireless charging pad is set to come to other electric hybrids Beemer has in its vehicle portfolio, including the 330e, 740e and the i8. The price of the pad and its exact release date has been kept under wraps, but we’d hazard a guess and say it’ll be priced in the ballpark of BWM’s i Wallbox Pro charging station, which costs around $900/£670.

Having tech that makes it easier to charge electric vehicles could be the means to accelerating their appeal to more motorists originally concerned about the faff of charging an electric hybrid; the simplicity of the BMW charging pad and the fact that it can withstand a clumsy driver running over it, might be the gadget to get people driving greener cars.

Related: Meet the lamp that wants to charge your iPhone X 

What’s it like living with an electric car? If you have one let us know on Twitter or Facebook.