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Car and Driver: Unplugged: Mercedes to Offer Wireless Charging for 2017 S550e

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S-Class S550e Wireless Charging

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Plugging in your car at the end of the day might make a statement that you consider yourself to be a part-of-the-solution kind of person, but the need to drag cables around and fumble plugs into awkwardly shaped charging ports can still be a hassle for affluent green consumers, who might well muss up their organic cotton suit while doing so. Mercedes clearly understands, which is why it will be offering the option of inductive charging on the S550e plug-in hybrid, which is being refreshed for 2017. Meaning that replenishing the increased-capacity, 13.5-kWh battery will be no more complicated than making sure it’s positioned over a special charging pad before running to your dinner of shaved quinoa cooked in Amazonian cloud water.

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We don’t know yet what the system will cost, or how much you’ll pay to get the inductive charging pad installed in your home or office, but if you can swing the $96,000-plus required for an S550e, then you probably won’t wince too much.

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The system itself works on a principle similar to all inductive charging, whether of electric toothbrushes or cell phones, just on a considerably larger scale. A primary coil sits under a floor-mounted base plate while a panel under the front of the S-class shields a secondary coil, the two separated by about 6 inches. Charging starts as soon as the S-class is in place, with transmission of up to 3.6kW possible. There is a slight efficiency loss compared to charging through a cable, but Mercedes claims a 90-percent transmission rate.

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We’re told it will be necessary to park accurately for the system to work, and a cockpit display will make it easier to maneuver the S-class directly over the charging pad. Alternatively, an autonomous parking option will be able to do a millimeter-perfect job. And the S550e will still have a charging port for those backwards parts of the world that lag behind early adoption.

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