The 2017 Mercedes-Benz S-Class 500 e will be made available with induction charging, enabling it to top up its electricity reserves without the need for plugs.
The technology used to charge the facelifted plug-in hybrid's battery is similar to that used for wirelessly charging smartphones.
The induction charging system being developed consists of two coils, one in the car’s floor and one contained within a base plate over which the the car would sit in order to charge. The base plate would sit on the floor under a protected area, most likely in a garage. An electromagnetic field is formed between the two coils, facilitating the transfer of electrical energy.
An in-car message will display once the vehicle is within range of the base plate, following which the charging process will commence automatically. The wireless energy transmission happens at a power output of 3.6kWh.
Mercedes says the system is 90% efficient, so charge times compared with a conventional plug are only slightly increased.
The 2017 500 e, an updated version of the current 500 plug-in hybrid, will use a turbocharged petrol engine and electric motor. Like today's model, it will be able to run on electric power alone for around 20 miles.
Insiders believe autonomous driving could be integrated with the car’s charging procedure, so the 500 e could eventually be able to drive itself over a charging point in order to top up power.
Initially the induction charging technology will be available as an optional extra when the facelifted S-Class (pictured above in test mule form) arrives next year, but Mercedes expects to add induction charging to all of its electrified range in the coming years.