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Looking to take the innovative direction the automotive industry is going in regards to clean renewable energy to the next level, automotive giant Mercedes-Benz will be making its first wireless charging systems for its line of electrified vehicles publically available around 2018. One of the objectives behind the development and unveiling of this system is to ease the burden imposed on plug-in EV owners by the responsibilities that come with maintaining and recharging the vehicle.

The wireless charging technology is expected to be an additional option for select vehicles in the automaker’s range. While hardware changes will be made to electric vehicles using this system, the changes should ultimately make recharging a much more manageable task for EV owners. The wireless charging system utilizes inductive charging in a similar nature to how wireless charging pads power smartphones, but with higher power levels of course. The charging pads are placed on the floor of a garage or driveway, and transmit power to a receiver plate mounted on the underside of the vehicle. Indicators on the car’s display guide the drivers to the best positions to receive the most thorough charge as the vehicle comes within range of the pad.

Mercedes has been developing this technology for years, and even conducted collaborative research with fellow automotive giant BMW, along with semiconductor and telecommunications equipment company Qualcomm. The primary objective behind the research is to mitigate how often electric vehicle owners are required to actually remember putting their vehicle back on charge upon arriving to their home or office.

(Image Credit: Slashgear.com)

According to Mercedes executives and board members, the technology is far from being perfected, and will come with some compromises. The wireless charging system is expected to be a cost option instead of a standard fit, even on the company’s high-profile models like the upcoming S-Class hybrid. In addition to how expensive inductive charging currently is, there will also be a time-to-charge compromise. Despite how Mercedes’ fastest chargers support around 11kW (depending on infrastructure), their wireless charging system will reportedly be limited to 3.6 kW- at least in the beginning.

Mercedes and BMW will also appear to be working on identical induction systems, however it’s not entirely clear whether other automotive competitors will utilize the same standard. Since EV charging standards (when it comes to power output and type of connector involved) can be a convoluted process, it adds more uncertainty electric vehicle segments that could be widely deemed as unnecessary. Audi for example, is reportedly exploring wireless charging features for some of their upcoming models. As electrification continues its rapid expansion in the automotive industry, convenient features like inductive charging could be an essential differentiator among consumers with deep pockets looking at high-end vehicles.

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