(Pocket-lint) - BMW has launched its 'world-first' geofenced eDrive zones in the UK. Entering the zones in a BMW plug-in hybrid will automatically switch them over to electric power. 

The zones are being introduced in certain areas of London and Birmingham after a testing period in Rotterdam.

The zones are aligned with existing low emission zones and work using GPS-based geofencing tech and will be rolled out elsewhere in future. In London the zone covers the same area as the TFL Congestion Charge/ULEZ zone and in Birmingham the service covers the city’s Clean Air Zone coming into force in 2021. 

If you plan a route involving one of the zones, enough electric power will automatically be conserved for the part of the journey within the zone. 

The eDrive Zone tech is included in every new BMW 3 Series, BMW 5 Series, BMW 7 Series and BMW X5 plug-in hybrid models (BMW 330e, BMW 530e, BMW 745e and BMW X5 xDrive45e) that have electric ranges of up to 54 miles.

For customers with these models already, they'll get compatibility with BMW eDrive Zones via a free over-the-air software update.

If you drive into an eDrive Zone in one of these vehicles, you'll see it highlighted graphically on your vehicle’s Central Control Display navigation screen. 

BMW

During a briefing about the introduction of eDrive Zones, we asked what kind of feedback the company had received about the technology during the trial in Rotterdam. 

"Right now the customer feedback that [we've] received is really positive," says BMW digital products project manager Julian Lienich. "Our customers say they like this kind of automatic switch to electric driving - so the car is really thinking for you.

"I got some feedback like 'it brings a smile to my face' when the [car is] automatically switching. Of course [we need to] monitor this for the UK market, but as we did already several customer clinics there the behaviour should be pretty similar."

The automaker currently offers a total of 14 electrified vehicles which will increase to a total of 25 electrified models by the end of 2023. BMW Group believes that electrified vehicles will account for a quarter of sales next year and half of sales by 2030. 

Writing by Dan Grabham.