A collaboration agreement between the Department of Transport, Infrastructure and Mobility of the City of Turin and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) was signed on Wednesday in Italy, allows the testing of a new integration system for electrified vehicles to be able to operate within “Zona a traffico limitato” (ZTL) or limited traffic zones (LTZ) in the city of Turin.
For those who aren’t familiar, ZTL zones are restricted traffic areas in Italy which also consist of low emission zones. Low emissions zones are implemented to reduce pollution, particularly in the northern regions of Italy which tend to have very high concentrations of fine particulates (PM10).
Partners of the initiative include 5T (the “in-house” company that manages the platform and access gates to the ZTL on behalf of the City of Turin, integrated within the Mobility Central of the Piedmontese capital), the FCA Research Center – that develops powertrains, vehicle systems, materials, methodologies, and innovative processes to improve the competitiveness of FCA, and GTT, a Turin-based transport company.
Using the name “Turin Geofencing Lab”, the project was created to take advantage of the opportunities offered by the increasingly rapid transformation of cities into “smart” areas which connect and dialogue with means of transport for an increasingly reduced environmental impact. This new method plays an important role for electric vehicles that includes plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs), which are proposed as key elements for the transition of new urban mobility across certain parts of the globe.
The collaboration between the FCA e-Mobility team and the Fiat Research Center has led to the development of a prototype system with on-board sensors perfectly integrated into the vehicle capable of recognizing the ZTL in advance and consequently to switch off the engine and activate the electric system in an automatic way. This device will be the subject of an avant-garde experimentation worldwide to study the logic of implementation of geofencing and, in particular, the methods of communication with the platforms of the Municipality of Turin and of 5T that manage the ZTL.
In this way, the “Turin Geofencing Lab” manages to integrate electric mobility with the management of city traffic, allowing plug-in hybrid cars, such as the new 2020 Jeep® Renegade 4xe on which an experimental prototype of the device has been installed and allow it to travel electrically in the limited traffic areas of urban centers. The prerogative that makes the project a worldwide exclusive is precisely the objective it sets itself by interacting with the traffic management platforms in the cities, immediately identifying the moment when the car enters a ZTL, in order to allow the vehicle to pass driving in electric mode.
The operation of “Turin Geofencing Lab” is simple. The on-board infotelematic system warns the driver with a message on the car screen of the imminent entry into the restricted traffic area. The system verifies that the “Drive Mode Electric” is ready and automatically activates its use, in order to continue with zero emissions. If the driver decides to change Drive Mode when driving through the ZTL, for example by entering the “Hybrid” mode, the system immediately signals the inadequacy and invites to return to the electric. If the invitation is ignored, and the car travels sections in a non-electric mode within the ZTL, the digital platform of the City of Turin, managed by 5T, will receive a notification via the communication strategy identified by the partners through the project.
The dialogue between the Jeep Renegade 4xe (able to alternate between electric and gasoline) and the ITS (Intelligent Transport Systems) infrastructure of the Municipality is guaranteed by the Geofencing system, thanks to which the PHEV can cross the areas reserved for electric vehicles only, benefiting from the same advantages reserved for them.
After the first experimental phase in which the Jeep Renegade 4xe equipped with the prototype Geofencing device has traveled a few hundred kilometers, the signing of the agreement will allow the start of the tests with two Renegade 4xe models, which will be delivered to the Municipality in the coming weeks. It will make Turin the first city in the world able to communicate with electric cars that travel its streets.
Once the reliability of this type of technology has been demonstrated on PHEVs such as the Jeep Renegade 4xe, it will be possible to create policies that allow these cars to cross the restricted traffic areas benefiting from the equalization to electric vehicles.