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Future FCA hybrids could automatically go EV-only in city centers

A program running in Italy will test an automatic EV mode with sensors used to recognize high-congestion areas.

Jeep Turin Geo Fencing test
A car that knows when it's entered the city? Now that's pretty smart.

Future plug-in hybrids from Fiat Chrysler Automobiles could sense when a driver enters a congested city center and automatically flip into an electric-only mode. Technology is wild, guys.

FCA detailed a new project on Wednesday, which it calls the Turin Geofencing Lab, which will run in Italy. The project consists of a Jeep Renegade 4xe plug-in hybrid with sensors that tell the car's powertrain it's entered a city center and so it should produce zero emissions and turn off the internal-combustion engine.

Not only would it save emissions in crowded cities, this would also provide benefits to drivers of a plug-in hybrid since it would open up use of EV-dedicated perks in some European cities, such as dedicated parking spaces. At the end of the day, a program like this is meant to cut emissions, though. Many cities on the continent have enacted restricted traffic zones, which bar certain cars due to emissions.

Plug-in hybrids provide the best of both worlds: Typically, there's enough electric range to do local errands, while the engine and hybrid system keep things efficient for long journeys. But if a hybrid's battery didn't have a sufficient charge, it wouldn't be able to automatically flip into an EV only mode.

FCA has been slow to introduce electrified vehicles across its multiple brands, though plans are speeding up. We first saw mild-hybrid technology reach the Ram 1500 and now buyers can drive home in an electrified Jeep Wrangler, too. Soon, we'll also see Jeep's 4xe badge in the US, likely with a Compass, Renegade and Wrangler plug-in hybrid.

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