Earlier this year, BMW and the city of Rotterdam, Netherlands, announced an innovative way to tackle emissions inside city centers. BMW introduced a software option that warns drivers of plug-in hybrid models that they should switch to EV mode as soon as they get inside the city center. Then, it looked like a publicity stunt but just a couple of months later, it turns out there are plans in motion to introduce the ‘Electric City Drive’ program to other cities as well.

This is part of BMW’s efforts of making its plug-in hybrid models more popular as a certain emissions plan deadline is getting closer. In about two years, the BMW fleet CO2 levels must be cut down to 101 g/km, in order for the Bavarians to avoid a costly fine from the EU. Right now, the Germans are expecting a rise in the average numbers, even though PHEV sales are increasing. That’s because diesel cars are no longer as popular as they used to be, due to various scandals.

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Thus, BMW and other car makers must now bank a lot on hybrids and this approach might actually be on to something. In order to convince people to actually switch to EV mode while driving downtown, BMW introduced a set of incentives that are meant to create competition between drivers. Apparently, the plan worked and could be expanded to other cities in the future. “We believe it should serve as a model, since it intelligently addresses the problems in the urban areas,” BMW Group Chief Financial Officer Nicolas Peter told Automotive News Europe.

“We want to present this interesting concept to mayors of other cities,” he added. “Today it’s manual because there is no law in place but in the future it could be done automatically via software. That means as soon as you drive into the city, it switches over to electric and it cannot be switched back as long as you are downtown.”

That’s a bold plan and some customers might have some reservation towards driving in EV mode alone. However, it could be a solution to issues regarding busy city centers and pollution. Officials in cities such as Brussels and Antwerp, Belgium, are now examining the Rotterdam results to see whether a similar approach could be adopted in their municipalities.