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Fiat is Testing Geofencing That Will Automatically Switch Hybrid Vehicles to Electric Mode in the City of Turin

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【Summary】Automaker Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FAC) is launching a pilot that will automatically switch its hybrid vehicles to electric mode whenever a driver enters a geofenced zone in the city of Turin. The goal of the pilot is to help reduce emissions and greenhouse gases in the city.

Eric Walz    Jun 03, 2020 3:45 PM PT
Fiat is Testing Geofencing That Will Automatically Switch Hybrid Vehicles to Electric Mode in the City of Turin
A Jeep Renegade which is part of FCA's "Turin Geofencing Lab" pilot.

As stricter emission regulations are adopted throughout Europe, automakers are adding more zero-emission electric cars to their model lineups to bring down their fleetwide average CO2 emissions. One new way to lower emission in cities is starting to gain traction.

Automaker Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FAC) is launching a pilot with the city of Turin's Department of Transport, Infrastructure and Mobility that will automatically switch its hybrid vehicles to electric mode whenever a driver enters a geofenced zone in the Italian city. The goal is to help reduce emission and greenhouse gases in the city.

The project, named ‘Turin Geofencing Lab' and involving the city authorities and public transport agency GTT, is based on a prototype system with fully integrated on-board sensors allowing a car to recognize when it is entering a restricted traffic zone, FCA said on Wednesday.

The sensors will then automatically turn off the combustion engine and switch to electric mode as a driver enters the city limits.

This would allow drivers of hybrid cars to have access to additional perks that EV owners get, such as dedicated parking spots for electric vehicles.

The system has been initially tested on the new Jeep Renegade 4xe plug-in hybrid model. The tests could be extended to the group's other hybrid models from next year. The Renegade 4xe is equipped with a gasoline engine, as well as an electric motor. 

The on-board battery allows the Renegade 4xe to function as an all-electric vehicle for up to 30 miles on a full charge, which is plenty to get around a crowded and compact city center.

A similar project was launched last year by German carmaker BMW and the city of Rotterdam, however BMW vehicles did not make the switch to electric mode automatically. Instead its prompted the driver via smartphone reminder to switch over to electric in the geofenced area. 

Rotterdam has considered banning internal combustion engine vehicles within the city limits creating "electric-only zones" as a way to help reduce air pollution.

In FCA's pilot program, the driver has no control over the switch to electric as onboard sensors determine the vehicle location.

Roberto Di Stefano, FCA's Head of EMEA e-Mobility, said that once the Turin project was completed, it would be gradually offered to other cities, in Italy and abroad.

Fiat is lagging behind its rivals in introducing new fully-electric and hybrid models and is looking for ways to lower its average emissions in the interim while the company develops new electric and hybrid models. Although electric versions of the compact Fiat 500 and plug-in hybrid versions of Jeep's Renegade and Compass models are due to hit the market this summer.

The efforts to reduce pollution in cities is widespread throughout the EU, starting with the banning of diesel-powered vehicles.

In October 2019, the European city of Brussels voted to ban combustion engine vehicles entirely from the city limits by 2035. Legislation adopted by the city's government calls for banning higher-polluting diesel-powered models by 2030, and those running on gasoline five years later. 

The EU has put in place legislation to reduce emissions by at least 40% by 2030 as part of the EU's 2030 climate and energy framework and contribute to the Paris Climate Agreement, which is designed to substantially reduce greenhouse gases to fight global warming.

This will not be possible in European cities without the widespread adoption of electric vehicles. For Fiat, the pilot program using hybrid models is a first step, as European automakers, including Fiat, continue to electrify their model lineups.


resource from: Reuters

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