Image: PRNewsfoto/Honda North America

Honda North America has rolled out a beta version of an app called SmartCharge for owners of its Fit EV [pictured] in California, within the Southern California Edison service territory. This app finds the best time for them to charge their cars, giving financial rewards for charging when grid demand is low and the availability of renewable electricity is high. It aims to discourage EV drivers from plugging in their cars in the early evening, i.e. upon their return from work, when demand on the grid is at its highest.

SmartCharge uses the JuiceWorks software platform developed by eMotorWerks, now a subsidiary of Enel X. This works with the car’s telematics system and existing HondaLink EV app, dynamically taking into account the driver’s daily schedule, the level of renewable electricity being generated, and the amount of carbon dioxide being emitted from power stations on the California grid: it then calculates when best to charge in order for the car to be fully-charged when it is next needed. JuiceWorks also interfaces via the cloud with the California Independent System Operator (CAISO) to respond to real-time energy pricing and high grid demand, avoiding both power ‘spikes’ and the highest costs.

Drivers are sent push notifications via the app and can remotely check and monitor their charging; they will score points in a reward system for participating. “We believe the program will be a game changer with its ability to create new value for our customers, reduce demand on the grid during peak load times, and help contribute to our company’s goal of reducing CO2 emissions,” said Steve Center, VP for connected and environmental business development, American Honda Motor Co., Inc.

Valery Miftakhov, founder and CEO of eMotorWerks, added: “Our JuiceNet platform provides a strong backbone for automotive manufacturers looking for innovative approaches... This partnership proves that direct vehicle charging management across fleets of vehicles and multiple market stakeholders is possible, and furthermore, it can be a source of revenues for drivers, utilities, and automotive equipment manufacturers alike.”

Honda intends to expand SmartCharge to other areas and for use by owners of other electrified vehicles, including the Clarity Electric and Clarity Plug-In Hybrid.

-Farah Alkhalisi