Several European cities have gone in for low emission zones in the congested and densely populated parts of continent. This initiative has been taken by many countries in the form of congestion tax for polluting vehicles and incentives for low polluting vehicles. European auto manufacturers are going plug-in hybrid in a big way to allow drivers enter the low emission zones in electric only modes.
Using geo-fencing technology, BMW has come up with a technological innovation called the eDrive. This technology is provided by BMW in their plug-in hybrid models like, BMW 745e, BMW X5 xDrive45e and BMW 330e. This is a system integrated with the navigation system which has pre-fed low emission zones for 52 cities in Germany and total of 80 cities in Europe in countries like Austria, Switzerland, Netherlands, Belgium and France. In addition, the drivers can set low emission zones on the app also. The system works like this; the moment the car enters one of the low emission zones, it automatically checks the level of charge in the battery of the plug-in hybrid system. If the battery charge is sufficient, the system automatically switches on to the pure electric mode. However, if the battery is low, it gives a warning and stays in the gasoline engine mode.
All the cars are provided with regenerative braking to allow for charging the batteries during braking in addition to the engine which charges the batteries while driving on the highways. Such a system, as per BMW, allows the drivers to adhere to the low emission restrictions in city while also driving more economically. This is so because the electric propulsion system is more efficient and also electricity is cheaper than diesel/ petrol. On the flip side, when the driver is in open spaces or on the autobahn, he can enjoy the traditionally power and handling of a BMW car. The system also allows the owner to cool or warm the car as required before entering the car as the heating and cooling systems are on the auxiliary power of the batteries.
In addition to the benefits of lower tax in the low emission zone, BMW has introduced a loyalty programme where in the driver earns points for driving in electric mode. The points earned are double the normal when driving in electric mode in the low emission zone. These points can be exchange for various services from BMW including the payment for charging the cars at public charging stations.