Electric Cars

Honda's SmartCharge beta lets you earn money for charging at the right time

It's only available for Fit EV owners right now, not that Honda has many EVs on offer.

Honda

Charging an electric car and balancing the needs of the grid can be pretty complicated, which is why Honda has gamified the whole thing and thrown some cash on top.

Honda SmartCharge is a new program available to select owners of the Fit EV in California. Owners will have to download the HondaLink EV app and create a profile to enter the beta. The program relies on information from local electrical grids to determine an ideal time for charging, which is when demand is low and when renewable energy sources are readily available.

Fun fact: The brand new Clarity Electric has just 7 miles of range more than the Fit EV, which went on sale in 2012. That's... not great.

Honda

When a preferred charging time comes around, the owner gets a reminder to plug in. Fit EV owners are eligible to receive up to $50 just for signing up, and then another $50 every two months thereafter for the duration of their participation. Users don't get cold hard cash, but rather Amazon digital gift cards.

In the event demand spikes, the system can pause charging until demand drops back down, meaning less reliance on less efficient methods of power generation. The app takes note of when you need the car charged, so it won't leave you stranded and might occasionally pull power when demand is high. Can't afford the car if you get fired for missing work, after all! Honda has a full FAQ on the SmartCharge site if you have any other concerns.

While it's only available to Fit EV users right now, Honda will gauge the beta's success and will determine whether or not to extend the program to additional models. Its only other pure electric vehicle is the Clarity Electric, but it has the previous-generation Accord Plug-in Hybrid and the new Clarity Plug-in Hybrid, both of which can also accept a charge from the grid.

If you've never seen or heard of the Fit EV, that's because it's a compliance car. That's the term given to models that were only released to satisfy California's demands for zero-emissions vehicles in automakers' lineups, which other states have since adopted, as well. They're usually electric versions of traditional gas cars, like the Chevrolet Spark EV, Ford Focus Electric and Toyota RAV4 EV.