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Three, as De La Soul effortlessly laid out for us all those years ago, is the magic number. Three minutes, in this case: the charging time for 62 miles of range for an electric car, direct from a new super-fast, prototype charging station in Bavaria.
And in 15 minutes, this charging station will have completely recharged your electric car. Well, nearly recharged – 80 per cent, which is as good as full anyway. The aim is to make recharging EVs as easy as filling up a tank of fuel. No guarantee that the person queued up in front of you at the station won’t also be conducting a weekly shop, mind.
This new prototype charging station is a joint project headed up by BMW. It’s joined by Porsche, Siemens, Allego and Pheonix Contact E-Mobility, and this consortium reckons that 450kW is the key to driving down those recharging times, because it’s between three and nine times the capacity of today’s DC fast-chargers.
There’s a Siemens energy supply system that can handle up to 920 volts (what researchers reckon future EVs will have), and cooled high power charging cables from Pheonix. That, and a no doubt brain-meltingly complicated system that integrates high-power electronics and vehicle communication. Which basically means any type of EV can use the same charger. A simpler infrastructure, then. At last.
The station has a modular architecture so that several cars can charge at the same time, and can be deployed for various purposes – things like fleet charging and along motorways.
Here’s an example. The BMW i3 research car used for this project was plugged into the prototype station, complete with its 57kWh battery. In just 15 mins, the i3’s battery had gone from ten per cent full, to 80 per cent full.
The Porsche research car had a slightly bigger battery pack – 90kWh – and in less than three minutes of over 400kW of charging boost, got 62 miles of range. Just enough time to grab those 2 for 1 multipack chocolates, then.
Electromagnetic field is the key to contactless transmission of electricity.
BMW Wireless Charging enables electric energy from the mains supply to be transmitted to a vehicle’s high-voltage battery without any cables – when the vehicle is positioned over a base pad. This can be installed in the garage, for example, 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 refuelling a car with a conventional engine.
Available to customers as an option, BMW Wireless Charging consists of a 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 between the GroundPad and CarPad is conducted over a distance of around eight centimetres. 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 3.2 kW, enabling the high-voltage batteries on board the BMW 530e iPerformance to be fully charged in around three-and-a-half hours. And with an efficiency rate of around 85 per cent, charging with the BMW Wireless Charging system is very efficient, too.
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