How Geo-fencing Helps BMW Promote Electric Driving

The BMW eDrive Zones digital service uses geo-fencing technology, allowing vehicles to automatically switch to electric drive mode whenever they enter a green zone.

The BMW Group, most famous for its premium vehicle brands, has been at the forefront of the sustainable mobility initiative. The Group has the broadest program of electrically-powered vehicles amongst its competitors. Between 2020 and 2030, the Group envisions substantially increasing the proportion of its plug-in hybrids and battery electric vehicles in the market.

Using Geo-fencing to Increase Electric Driving and Reduce Emissions

Recently, the BMW Group launched a digital service called eDrive Zones, available as standard in its various plug-in hybrid models. The service uses geo-fencing technology to mark low emission zones in about 80 European cities.

When the service is activated, each available eDrive Zone is graphically highlighted on the navigation map in the Control Display of the vehicle. As soon as the vehicle enters the designated area, it automatically changes to the purely electric operating mode.

The new technology was initially tested in 2018 in a pilot project called ’Electric City Drive’ in the city of Rotterdam, in collaboration with the local Erasmus University. The aim of the project was to encourage drivers of plug-in hybrid vehicles to use electric mode more often in the city.

The project area was marked using geo-fencing technology in a specially-developed app. The app was then installed on the drivers’ smartphones and synced with the participating vehicles. Whenever the vehicles drove into the designated area, the drivers received messages on the infotainment display systems recommending that they switch to electric.

The drivers of around 50 BMW and MINI plug-in hybrids from the Rotterdam area volunteered to test the new technology. Over a period of three months, it was found that thanks to the app, participants drove on electric power 93 percent of all the kilometres they drove within the Electric City Drive area.

In this way, geo-fencing technology is helping the BMW Group systematically implement its sustainability strategy. In addition to the climate benefits, increased electric driving also benefits drivers by reducing their fuel costs.

Various Geo-fencing Applications in the Automotive Industry

Award Winning Mobile Campaign

Geo-fencing is also used in the BMW Group’s brand awareness campaign that targets the luxury vehicle market. It helps the company capture a niche audience segment to visit its dealerships and increase sales.

In a year-long, nationwide campaign in the USA, BMW partnered with Cadreon, a digital advertising solution provider, to reach out to high-income consumers via mobile advertisements. The campaign used a mobile programmatic platform called Adelphic to create custom geo-fences around BMW and competitor dealerships, targeting consumers at moments when they were considering buying luxury vehicles. The campaign also geo-targeted consumers who had visited BMW dealerships, or competitor dealerships, in recent months. The geo-location solution was provided by Factual, a location data and platform company.

The strategy to reach out to consumers based on real-time location worked successfully for BMW as the hyper-local mobile campaign resulted in 112.8 percent increase in foot traffic to BMW dealerships in a six-month period.

The ‘BMW: Driving Moments That Matter’ campaign won first place in the Best Mobile Campaign category of The Drum Digital Trading Awards. It also got the bronze honor in the MMA Smarties’ Enabling Technologies, Location Based category award.

Geo-fencing to Track Vehicle Locations

Teletrac Navman, a vehicle service provider, has partnered with the BMW Group to install an anti-theft tracking system called Trackstar in its vehicles. The system allows owners to add an invisible geo-fence around their vehicle’s location.

Vehicle owners who use this geo-fencing technology will receive an alert if the vehicle is moved away from the set location. The Trackstar mobile app conveniently keeps owners informed on the last known location of the vehicle and its journey history.

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