Interested in buying an electric car, but not sure if it fits your lifestyle, commute, or needs? Auto maker BMW — which has been rather hesitant when it comes to EVs — recently launched an iPhone app (s aapl), called EVolve, designed to help users discover if they are a good fit for owning an EV or not.
Using the GPS chip in the iPhone, the app can start tracking your driving habits, and can then alert you to the amount of virtual battery juice left in your pretend EV and how long it would take you to charge up at the nearest charging station. The virtual EV has a battery range of 100 miles, so users can see if that fits into their daily commute and common driving behavior.
The app also tells users how much lower the carbon emissions emitted would have been with an EV, and how much money they would have saved by using electricity instead of gas to power their car.
Even more helpful for BMW’s corporate plans, I could envision the app being useful to determine how big a market EVs are. Detroit News reported recently that BMW North American Chairman and CEO Jim O’Donnell said, “(EVs) won’t work for most people…. For at least 90 percent and maybe more of the population, (an EV) won’t work (at the current battery range).”
Instead of aggressively investing in EVs, BMW has been far more interested in turning to mobility as a way to strengthen its brand and add connectivity to its cars. BMW recently launched a $100 million venture fund called i Ventures that will solely be focused on investing in mobile startups and applications. BMW’s first $5 million investment was into mobile app developer MyCityWay.
Connected car data is rapidly becoming a platform, on which companies can build applications and provide services. Other auto makers like Nissan and GM (s gm) have developed iPhone apps for their inaugural electric cars. Startups like Virtual Vehicle Company (a Green:Net Big Ideas winner) are using connected car data to create a business.
Check out the video of the Evolve app below: