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Daimler and BMW form wireless charging partnership

The technology transfers energy via a magnetic field, allowing a vehicle to be recharged without physically plugging it in, and is familiar from electric toothbrush charging stands.

Under the agreement, the two companies will develop a standardised coil to be mounted in the vehicle floor, and a second to be fitted to the charging pad on the ground. A data connection between the two components will transmit information to help with correct alignment, shown on the car's dashboard display.

Once positioned correctly, these will be able to charge at 3.6kW with 90% energy efficiency, capable of charging most plug-in hybrids in less than three hours, or the BMW i8 in less than two.

The technology is unaffected by bad weather, shuts off automatically if it detects a foreign object and is claimed to emit little ambient radiation. There is also the possibility to double the charging rate and add smartphone controls in the future, the carmakers have said.

Wireless charging looks likely to become a prevalent technology for future electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles. Renault, Mitsubishi and Toyota have hinted at adding inductive chargers from the factory, original equipment manufacturers Bosch and Hella are developing systems, and Qualcomm and Evatran are undergoing real-world testing using adapted vehicles.

Alex Grant

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