The standardised system to be developed by the two German luxury car makers will be able to charge full electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles without the need for those cars to be physically plugged into a power source.
Instead, there's a charging plate located on the ground, while on the underside of the front of the car is a receiving plate. To charge the car all the driver has to do is position the car's plate over the ground plate, and press a button on the dash.
Graphics on the car's entertainment screen will allow the driver to easily line up the two plates. A smartphone app allows owners to check on the charging status of their cars.
A targeted magnetic field sends power from the charging plate to the car. BMW claims that their system will have a charging rate of 3.6kW, allowing the plug-in hybrid i8 to be fully recharged in two hours.
The standard being worked on by the two companies allows for a faster charging rate of 7kW to be developed down the track. This would allow the all-electric i3 to be recharged overnight.
According to BMW, the system will work rain, hail or shine, and that charging plates can be installed both indoors and outdoors. Just as importantly, the space between the charging and receiving plates is constantly monitored, with charging shutdown if anything is detected in between.
Neither company has announced a timeframe for when we might see this technology pop up in production vehicles.
BMW has launched the first two vehicles of its electrified range, the i3 hatchback and i8 supercar. In standard spec the i3 is a pure electric car, although buyers can opt for a petrol-powered two-cylinder range extender engine that can recharge the vehicle's batteries on the go. The i3 goes on sale in Australia from November with a price tag starting from $63,900.
The i8 is an all-wheel drive plug-in hybrid, which combines a 1.5-litre turbocharged three-cylinder engine with an electric motor to deliver a total of 266kW of power and 570Nm of torque. The i8 will go on sale in Australia either late in 2014 or early in 2015.