Electric Car Right for You? There’s an App for That

“Range anxiety” is the term coined to describe drivers’ fears that they will be stranded by the limited-driving range of an electric car. BMW has an app for that.

Yes, BMW has developed a smartphone app for Electric Vehicle driving. The best part is that drivers can use it now, with their gas-burning cars, to see how their everyday driving routines would match the capability of an EV.

The app is called EVolve and it runs on the Apple iPhone. It’s also under development for future release on the Google Android operating system. The goal is to give drivers an idea of what to expect from driving an electric car before they make the substantial commitment to buy an EV or lease one. It also shows how much money they could save in actual driving conditions and the EVolve app estimates the reduction of their environmental impact.

Would-be EV drivers can download the free app from Apple or the Android app store, then run it when they plan to set out in their car by pressing the “Start Tracking” button on the app’s main screen. Below that button the app scrolls through various tips for efficient driving that have been learned by drivers who participated in the company’s Mini-E electric car pilot program.
Tips include a reminder to use cabin temperature pre-conditioning while the car is plugged in to save battery life once on the road. Another button offers to display the driver’s EV compatibility and the results that have been accumulated while driving.

On departure, the EVolve app estimates the virtual electric car has 100 miles of driving range available, then once underway it charts the driver’s progress around town and estimates how much of that faux battery life has been consumed. When they stop, the driver will need to remember to tell the app that they are plugging in their pretend electric car to add range to the battery.

After three trips the app renders a “compatibility rating” that estimates how well an EV would suit their driving habits. Drivers can even connect the accumulated driving data to the company’s web site at bmwactivatethefuture.com, where they can manually create trips that would estimate gas savings over time.

“With the EVolve app, BMW intends to help foster a wider acceptance of electric vehicles and understanding of the future of mobility,” explained Rich Steinberg, manager of electric vehicle operations and strategy for BMW of North America. “The discussion must break down barriers in the mind of the average driver as he or she is confronted with automobile purchase decisions ahead.” — Dan Carney, Motor Matters

Manufacturer photo: The EVolve app aims to open drivers’ minds to the benefits of adopting the EV lifestyle by demonstrating their potential cost savings and environmental impact. The BMW EVolve app has been designed in partnership with MINI E. Following three complete “trips” with the app, the user will be given a compatibility rating letting them know how an EV might fit into their daily life.

Copyright, AutoWriters Associates Inc., 2011

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