The next generation of BMW plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) will be able to switch to electric mode when entering low emission zones.
Technology will be installed in the cars which automatically detects the zones through geo-fencing (a virtual boundary) which the carmaker says will ‘guarantee’ the optimum battery usage of the vehicle and mean the driver doesn’t have to worry about making the decision or being caught out by enforcement cameras.
Cities including Paris and Milan now charge drivers of diesel vehicles to enter their city centres.
The BMW eDrive Zones will be a standard feature in BMW plug-in hybrid vehicles from 2020.
The first real-life trial for the new BMW eDrive Zones function and the digital service BMW Points was the pilot project ‘Electric City Drive’ in Rotterdam during 2018.
The project studied whether it might be possible to encourage electric driving of plug-in hybrid vehicles by defining an inner city zone and offering an app that encourages regular charging in a ‘fun’ way.
The aim was to get users to make more frequent use of the electromobility potential offered by their vehicle and offer them points for charging, which they can use for rewards such as free charging.
50 plug-in hybrid drivers from the Rotterdam area were provided with a specially developed app for this purpose.
Once they had installed it on their smartphone and paired it with their vehicle, they received a message on their vehicle screen whenever they entered the defined eDrive Zone in the city centre of Rotterdam – along with a request to switch the drive system of their plug-in hybrid into fully electric mode.
Over a period of three months, research was carried out to establish the extent to which project participants increased their volume of electrically powered driving as a result of receiving such messages.
The project found that PHEV drivers covered 90% of all routes inside the Rotterdam eDrive Zone running on electric power when they had the app connected to the vehicle.