BMW EVolve Test Drive: Are You EV Compatible?

By Jonathan Spira on 18 April 2011
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BMW unveiled the BMW ActivE in New York City along with BMW EVolve, an app that lets drivers pretend they have an electric car.  Available for the iPhone and, later this month, for the Android platform, EVolve lets you experience the electric-car lifestyle without having to buy or lease one and without any range anxiety.

The concept is simple: you start each day with a 100-mile range for the make-believe EV.  Using the device’s GPS, the app tracks how far you drive throughout the day.  All you have to do is tell the app when you start or park and you can even engage in make-believe charging when parked.

The EVolve app came out today so I installed it on my iPad 2 and immediately took it for a test drive  in our BMW 335d.  The app is set up to make a comparison between driving the ActivE and a BMW 128i coupé. Despite the fact that it uses $2.50/gallon for gasoline prices, it still is able to drive the message home.  In my case, for the 36.9 miles (59.4 km) driven today, had we been driving an EV, we would have saved 28.8 pounds (13 kg) of CO2 emissions, which (the app reminds us) is the equivalent of running a plasma flatscreen TV for 146.7 hours.

Using the app is easy. You simply click on “Start Tracking” to start the trip and “Park Your EV” to stop.  The app calculates your drive time and distance and allows you to view all of this data, which is what makes it all so interesting.

While “driving” a BMW EVolve approximates driving an electric car (in some respects, it’s like having a pedometer for your vehicle), it can’t track some real-world considerations that impact driving range, namely weather, speed, or terrain.  Nonetheless, using it is fun and I found the information it provided rather thought-provoking.  Besides, after conducting its analysis, it told me that I was an “EV Pro” who was “ready to kiss gas goodbye.”  Ignoring the fact that I was driving a diesel for the moment, it pronounced me as an “excellent candidate” for a BMW EV.

In case this app isn’t enough, when the BMW ActivE is released this fall, BMW will have an enhanced version of the BMW MyRemote app that supports remote control of charging and vehicle preconditioning functions (both of which are also controllable from within the vehicle) via the driver’s BMW ConnectedDrive account.