Electric vehicles and other alt-fuel rides are big news these days. Tech fans and green enthusiasts can't wait to get their hands on 'em, while others think that hybrids and their eco-friendly kin are part of a vast communist conspiracy.
No matter where you fall on that spectrum, there are many things to consider before dumping your conventional ride for something greener. EVs, for example, are fine for most work commutes, but current models aren't practical for longer trips because of range limitations and long recharge times. If you're on the fence, there's now a tool that can evaluate your lifestyle and decide whether or not you're ready for an EV.
The tool in question is an app from BMW called "EVolve" (see what they did there?). At the moment, it's only for Apple devices like the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch, but we'd expect to see it in Android form soon.
Using EVolve is pretty straightforward: when you're ready to start your commute or run your errands or leave on that cross-country road trip, just click the "start tracking" button, and EVolve will keep tabs on you using Google Maps. When you're done, click "finish tracking", and you'll see a breakdown of your travel details, including the time you spent on the road, the distance you've gone, and how much charge is left in your battery. (No word, exactly, on what battery standard BMW uses for the app.) A few clicks more, and you can get EV-friendly driving tips, a full travel log, and an estimate of your savings versus a conventional gas-powered vehicle.
The EVolve app is clearly laying the groundwork for the launch of BMW's ActiveE electric vehicle in the fall of 2011. (The FAQ even says as much.) If you click the "stay informed" button within the app, BMW will keep you up-to-date about the model's availability in your area.
Marketing tool or not, EVolve offers a number of nice features for the EV-curious. And it's hard to beat the price: EVolve is currently free to download on iTunes.