Dive Brief:

  • Honda has partnered with eMotorWerks to offer southern California drivers of its Fit electric vehicle (EV) a service which can help them determine the most environmentally-friendly charging times — while possibly earning monetary incentives to move that demand off-peak.
  • Honda says its new SmartCharge beta program will offer EV customers an app that computes the ideal time to charge a vehicle, taking into account the driver’s schedule and the availability of renewable energy.
  • While utilities are eager to serve the new load from a growing EV sector, demand response programs that maintain a seamless customer experience will be necessary to manage the grid.

California leads the nation in electric vehicle adoption, but last year the Edison Electric Institute and the Institute for Electric Innovation forecast up to 7 million EVs on the road by the end of 2025, nationally.

Utilities are focused on how to manage the anticipated rise in EV demand, particularly at peak times when the new loads could require extensive distribution system upgrades. Many power companies are looking to demand response and smart charging programs, and Honda’s new offering brings a flexible charging capacity into the California market.

eMotorWerks acts as the demand response provider for the Honda program and interfaces with the California ISO, allowing electric vehicle chargers to participate in demand response events to support the grid.

American Honda Motor Vice President Steve Center said the first-of-its-kind program will “shift electric vehicle charging in real-time without impacting the customer.”

To participate in the program, Fit EV owners need to download a HondaLink EV app on an Apple device and select preferred charging times. According to the company, the app’s algorithms “use pricing signals from the electric grid to determine optimal grid periods within customers’ preferred charging times.”

Drivers can receive push notifications to remind them to plug in, and they can earn up to $50 per two-month period in addition to a $50 sign-up reward. While the program is now offered only in Southern California, Honda says it wants to ultimately broader the offering. Honda plans to make two-thirds of its global automotive sales from EVs by 2030.

eMotorWerks will utilize parent company Enel X’s intelligent, cloud-connected JuiceNet platform to manage the program.