BMW plug-in hybrids to auto-switch to electric mode in emissions-free zones – feature will debut next year

Here’s another tidbit from BMW’s #NextGen showcase in Munich. The carmaker will launch a new function in its plug-in hybrid models that will automatically detect emissions-free zones switch and auto switch to pure electric driving mode.

This function, called BMW eDrive Zones, will be standard in BMW PHEVs from 2020. In cities that establish green zones solely for emission-free driving, geofencing technology will be able to recognise these automatically. When the car enters the zone, it will automatically switch to EV mode.

With BMW eDrive Zones, Munich is hoping that its plug-in hybrids get to receive the same access rights to green zones as full electric vehicles, since they essentially behave the same in these areas and emit nothing. However, what if the PHEV runs out of pure electric range while driving in the green zone?

BMW says that this strategy significantly boosts the potential of plug-in hybrid vehicles to reduce emissions. Increasing the use of electric driving not only optimises efficiency, but also helps reduce operating costs for customers, especially in city traffic. The BMW Group’s “Electric City Drive” pilot project is a real-life test of eDrive Zones in conjunction with the Dutch city of Rotterdam and the local Erasmus University.

The premium brand is also planning a BMW Points app, which encourages PHEV customers to “get the most out of their electric drive.” Basically, the more miles you cover in EV mode, the more points and public charging time you will get. Aside from Charge Now charging, BMW is planning more rewards from Share Now and Park Now services. This system has already been tested by 50 volunteer PHEV drivers in Rotterdam over a three-month period last year.

BMW is boosting its PHEV and electrification drive. The original plan, revealed in 2017, was to have 25 new electrified models out by 2025. Now, Munich has announced that it will achieve that two years earlier, by 2023. More than half of the 25 models are set to be fully-electric.

Last year, it sold 142,617 electrified BMWs and MINIs. By the end of 2019, the German automaker expects to reach the half a million total electrified units sold milestone.

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