(Pocket-lint) - BMW has announced a huge range of updates coming into effect in summer 2020 - including a greater focus on how its plug-in hybrid (PHEV) models use their battery range.

From summer 2020, models including the 3 Series, 5 Series, 7 Series and BMW X5 PHEV models will all offer BMW eDrive Zone. This function will use geofencing to allow the car to automatically switch to using electric power only when entering a low emission zone.

The system will mean, for example, that you'll be using the combustion engine as you approach a city, but then the car will switch to using the battery for emission-free driving when you enter the city centre, if it's a designated low emission zone, which 80 European cities currently are. 

While the electric range of many of the plug-in hybrid models is limited - averaging about 30 miles - the system will mean that rather than wasting that battery power when you're on the motorway, it will help to reduce those emissions in dense population areas.

When you activate the eDrive Zone function, those low emission zones will be highlighted on the map, along with a message to inform that driver that the system is engaged. 

Those PHEV models mentioned above will also get a drive-ready sound for electric driving as standard, so you'll know when you stop and start using the battery to drive the car.

Looking to boost the range of advantages to drivers, BMW is also expanding the preconditioning that's offered to hybrid models. This will include heating and cooling the cabin, including the steering wheel and seat heating, meaning that you can set the temperature in your car while it's still connected to the power on the driveway, so it's perfect when you get into the car - without that immediate demand on the climate control system as you drive away.

These functions will be enabled via smartphone on compatible vehicles. Not only will summer 2020 bring those advancements, but Android Auto will also be available for the first time as part of BMW Operating System 7, allowing a wireless integration of your Android phone.

Writing by Chris Hall.