BMW is to run an induction charging pilot programme in the US after starting in Germany in 2018.

Only 200 Californians will get to take part and they must be residential home customers able to charge the car inside an enclosed garage space.

The process begins with an online questionnaire to help determine location suitability followed by a 530e (PHEV) readiness survey about the garage and local electric grid. Approved participants will then receive a confirmation number to take to one of 33 participating state dealers to complete a 36-month lease of the PHEV. Qmerit will then complete the residential hardware installation.

All costs, expenses and expenditures associated with the initial installation, maintenance and de-installation of the ground pad module are covered by BMW. Participating dealers cover 13 CA counties.

Wireless charging enables electric energy from a main power supply to be transmitted to a vehicle’s high-voltage battery without any cables – when the vehicle is positioned over an induction base pad (much like your toothbrush or cellphone on a car charging pad). This can be installed in the garage and the charging process started as soon as the vehicle has been parked in position without any further input from the driver.

“The launch of this technology sees the BMW Group move another step closer to an infrastructure that will make charging the battery of an electrified vehicle even simpler than refueling a car with a conventional engine,” the automaker said.

Wireless Charging consists of an inductive charging station (GroundPad), which can be installed either in a garage or outdoors, and a secondary vehicle component (CarPad) fixed to the underside of the vehicle. The contactless transfer of energy is conducted over a distance of around three inches. The GroundPad generates a magnetic field. In the CarPad an electric current is induced, which then charges the high-voltage battery.

The system has a charging power of 3.2kW, enabling the high voltage batteries to be fully charged in around three and a half hours. And with an efficiency rate of around 85%.

As the vehicle has been parked in the correct position above the charging station, followed by a push of the Start/Stop button, the charging process is initiated. Once the battery is fully charged, the system switches off automatically.

Wireless Charging also helps the driver to manoeuvre their car into the correct parking position with the help of a WiFi connection between the charging station and vehicle. An overhead view of the car and its surroundings is displayed in the centre display with coloured lines that help guide the driver into the correct spot. A graphic icon shows when the correct parking position for inductive charging has been reached. This can deviate from the optimum position by up to 2.75 inches longitudinally and up to 5.5 inches laterally. The GroundPad can be installed outdoors, where it may be used regardless of the weather conditions. All components that conduct electricity are protected from rain and snow, and driving over the GroundPad will not damage it in any way.

During charging, ambient electromagnetic radiation is limited to the vehicle undercarriage. The GroundPad is permanently monitored and will be switched off if any foreign matters are detected.