The concept of eDrive Zones stems from the successful Electric City Drive pilot project run by BMW Group in collaboration with the Municipality of Rotterdam and the Erasmus University in the Netherlands. Beginning with March 12, 2020, the BMW eDrive Zones functionality becomes available widely across 80 European cities, thus stimulating customers of BMW plug-in hybrid vehicles to drive in fully electric mode as much as possible. The eDrive Zones are specially designated areas within the cities which the vehicle is able to recognize and automatically switch to emission-less drive.
Rotterdam was not randomly chosen as the trial city for the pilot project. The BMW eDrive Zones fits perfectly with Dutch municipality’s ambition to create a zero-emission center by promoting the pure electric, silent driving. In addition to the fully electric cars, electrified plug-in hybrid vehicles can also actively contribute to a better living environment in urban areas.
‘Electric City Drive’ was the name of the pilot project, carried out between late 2018 and early 2019 by the BMW Group in collaboration with the city of Rotterdam and Erasmus University. During the study, it was examined whether it is possible to encourage pure electric driving in plug-in hybrid vehicles by recognizing inner-city areas. The goal was to get customers to use the electric mode of their cars as often as possible.
About 50 drivers of a BMW plug-in hybrid model from Rotterdam were given a specially developed app for this. Once installed on their smartphone and paired with their car, they received a notification on the display in their car when they entered the designated Electric City Drive zone – along with the propulsion system of their vehicles requesting a switch to full electric driving mode. This practical test was carried out over a period of three months and it was investigated to what extent the participants increased their share of electric driving.
A beta version of the BMW Points App made it possible for them to monitor their progress, compare it with that of other participants, participate in competitions and collect points. Participants in the Electric City Drive pilot project covered more than 90% of distances within the defined zone in pure electric mode. The technology used in the pilot project inspired further development of the BMW eDrive Zone function and BMW Points.
Speaking of the recent go-live of the BMW eDrive Zones function specifically dedicated to BMW plug-in hybrids, the feature is now readily active in the G4, denoting the four biggest metropolis cities in the Netherlands: Rotterdam, Utrecht, The Hague and Amsterdam. Further information on the eDrive Zones within these areas can be found at www.bmw.nl.
Sales of plug-in hybrid vehicles have once again gained further momentum last year, boosted by an increased offer from automotive manufacturers. Popularity will continue to grow in the next years as well, as the electrified models can ensure the best of two worlds with minimum consumption, reduced CO2 emissions and the option to drive in pure electric mode for quite a long distance.
Most BMW Group plug-in hybrids can already ensure an electric range of more than 50 kilometers on a single battery charge. When entering the eDrive Zone, the BMW plug-in hybrid vehicles automatically switches to fully electric driving mode. The driver receives a notification when crossing an eDrive Zone boundary, both on entry and exit.
eDrive Zones are guaranteed to make the most of the potential that plug-in hybrid models can offer – without operator intervention. The purely electric distance traveled also means higher efficiency and lower running costs for the customer. This is of special importance when driving in heavy traffic, where electric propulsion proves to be more efficient than a combustion engine.
Stefanie Wurst, General Manager BMW Group Netherlands, commented on the new feature for plug-in hybrids: “Cars are becoming increasingly intelligent thanks to a high degree of connectivity. With eDrive Zones, our plug-in hybrids become part of a system. They communicate with the city and automatically switch to electric mode. For example, plug-in hybrids offer maximum reduction of CO2 emissions in the city center. For many customers, the plug-in hybrid is the ideal transition technology to fully electric driving anyway. They are a first introduction to electric driving and can thus bring about a change in behavior.”
The eDrive Zones are defined through GPS coordinates using a technology called geo-fencing. The eDrive Zone always has a diameter between 10 and 20 kilometers and expressely includes the city center. In Rotterdam, the shape of the eDrive Zone was determined in close consultation with BMW Group. The boundaries of it are represented by the network of ring roads consisting of the A20, A16, A15 and A4 highways.
The technology is based on the dedicated eDrive Zones app, which allows the car to recognize the zones. The app is automatically sent “over the air” to the appropriate BMW plug-in hybrids. All available eDrive Zones are then visible and ‘on’ by default. The Netherlands is one of the six countries where eDrive Zones will be put into operation for the first time, the others being: Germany, France, Belgium, Austria and Switzerland.
Starting July 2020, the BMW Group will also introduce the BMW Points, which helps the drivers of BMW plug-in hybrid models collect valuable points with every kilometer driven electrically. In the eDrive Zones, the points count as double compared to driving in non-eDrive Zones. The collected BMW Points can be then used for free charging in the BMW Charging network with the use of the dedicated app.
Models such as the 330e, 745e and X5 xDrive45e already prove very popular among customers, with more plug-in hybrids planned in the near future. As part of the electrification strategy, up to 2023, the fleet of plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles within the BMW Group will grow to 25 new models.
Now let’s see more photos of the BMW 330e M Sport plug-in hybrid sedan featured in the striking Sunset Orange running in the G4. Enjoy!