Plug-in hybrids have drawn flak in some environmental circles because even though they are designed to be driven using electric power, many are not.
BMW is determined to improve the vehicles' image. One big motivation? BMW must sell more plug-in hybrids so it can bring down its emissions and comply with European regulations.
Its approach: Make consumers more aware of the vehicles' benefits.
Challenged with Europe's mandate to cut fleet carbon dioxide emissions, BMW has launched a pilot program in Rotterdam, Netherlands, to encourage plug-in hybrid drivers to switch off their combustion engines and use battery power while driving in a downtown area.
The issue is not an immediate concern for BMW's business in the U.S., where the pressing need is for more SUVs and crossovers. But BMW's efforts to improve its environmental footprint through consumer awareness could provide a lesson for other markets.
In the European pilot, called Electric City Drive, participants earn points for every mile they drive using electric power, with the points enabling them to compete with each other for rewards.