ULEZs are shown on navigation screen

ULEZs are shown on navigation screen

BMW is launching eDrive Zones in London and Birmingham. This is a new digital service which automates the process of switching to electric-only power when a plug-in hybrid vehicle (PHEV) enters a defined area of these cities.

The service is similar to than announced recently for Ford's Transit Custom PHEV which offers the option of geofencing technology to help improve urban air quality. Using live location data, the PHEV automatically switches to electric drive mode whenever entering predefined areas such as congestion and low-emission zones. The geofencing tech need not only apply to city centres: operators can also create 'green zones' to encourage low-emission driving near schools, playgrounds and warehouses. When the vehicle leaves a controlled zone, it automatically switches to the most appropriate drive mode for the next stage of its trip.

BMW said its system also automatically ensures electric power is conserved for use during the part of the journey within the low emission zone, if the journey destination is entered into the vehicle's navigation system.

"This is the flexibility that customers want, as they make the transition to electromobility," said Pieter Nota, BMW board member for customer, brands, sales.

"We urge governments to prioritise plug-in hybrid vehicles in order to encourage consumers to live a more sustainable lifestyle."

The eDrive Zones service, is standard on BMW PHEVs with the latest Operating System 7.0 and, like Ford's system, uses geo-fencing technology via GPS within the vehicle's navigation system. The eDrive Zones in London and Birmingham are highlighted graphically on the vehicle's navigation screen so drivers can see their location.

This feature, enabled in customer vehicles as of 7 August, covers the same geographic area as the TFL Congestion Charge/ULEZ zone in London while in Birmingham it covers the city's planned Clean Air Zone which is due to be implemented in 2021. BMW plans to introduce this technology in additional cities across the UK and Ireland in the future.

The eDrive Zones has also been made available via a free over the air software update for compatible BMW PHEVs, meaning existing customers can also benefit from the technology.

In an early trial of the technology, carried out in the Netherlands in 2018, 90% of all routes within the trial zone in Rotterdam were driven in electric-only mode.