In various plug-in hybrid models from BMW, drivers now can preset so-called "e-drive zones". When the car enters such an inner-city low emission zone, it automatically switches from combustion to electric mode. For this purpose, the vehicles use geofencing technology via GPS, in which an area is predefined on the map by means of coordinates. The zone is then graphically displayed to the driver on his navigation device. Within this area, the car drives electrically for as long as the battery's state of charge permits. If the battery's energy reserves run out, the system switches back to the combustion engine. The driver receives a corresponding signal in the Control Display.
The service is now available in around 80 European cities. Further BMW models and regions are to follow. The system is based on a practical test conducted by BMW in Rotterdam. 50 drivers of plug-in hybrids were asked to switch to purely electric driving mode via a specially developed smartphone app when entering the defined inner city zone. As a result, around 90 percent of all routes within the core area were covered electrically, BMW says.
According to the carmaker, the technology is a contribution to the Smart City vision. This approach is also conceivable for other vehicle brands, the vehicle manufacturer explained. In addition, it gives city administrations a means of improving air quality in particularly critical areas or even in the entire urban area, provided that other OEMs should also implement the technology in their vehicles.