The Honda e is a fantastic little EV. First and foremost, it looks great, sporting a modern-retro design that is refreshing amongst a sea of ‘futuristic’ zero-emission vehicles. However, it is what surrounds and supports Honda’s first fully-electric city car that impresses me the most.
The company’s energy division has recently launched what it calls e:PROGRESS, which is a new energy management system for its upcoming lineup of EVs. To find out more, I sat down with Jorgen Pluym, the Project Leader of Honda’s Energy Management Solutions.
Ultimately, EVs can have all the bells and whistles, but they are useless without a sophisticated infrastructure to support them.
“Electric vehicles alone are not the solution, especially if you are looking at an urban EV like the Honda e,” he says. “In urban environments, it’s not always easy to own an EV because of challenges such as charging. In the future, charging EVs should happen at home or in the workplace, preferably using smart charging to match the power supply depending on renewable energy available.”
Pluym explains that Honda’s e:PROGRESS will be launched through a “step-by-step approach.” To start with, Honda will sell its chargers to customers as a package, including installation and a smart tariff that can control the charging based on the pricing of energy on the market at the time. To do this, Honda has teamed up with leading European energy company Vattenfall to support the transition over to renewable energy and reduce charging costs for customers.
In January, alongside smart battery developer Moixa, Honda unveiled a smart EV charging project with Islington Council to optimise its vehicle fleet. The project is the first step in reducing harmful air pollution, saving money for essential services and help Islington achieve its 2030 net-zero carbon emissions target.
In addition, it will help Honda test the process before expanding globally. This is just the start.
“We will have thousands of vehicles all over the world connected to different chargers,” says Pluym. “It is Moixa’s role to plan, forecast and control all of the charging of these connected vehicles.”
Moixa is a leading software technology company with a lot of knowledge on complex algorithms, allowing it to optimise available storage in vehicle batteries and match it with customer requirements.
This is a form of ‘smart charging’ which, of course, can mean many different things. However, it all boils down to optimising data to identify when is best to charge the vehicle and still satisfy the customers’ needs.
“It will be based on the information we get from Vattenfall which will tell us when the energy is at its cheapest,” adds Pluym. “We will still obey the requirement of our customers, providing them with an application that allows them to specify their needs.”
As mentioned before, the power will come from renewable sources, such as wind, solar and hydro, creating a wholistic solution to energy usage in the transport industry. Of course, this kind of power source isn’t the most reliable, so it is important that Honda uti
“For example, it is easy to obtain renewable energy when there is sufficient daylight or wind. However, it is more difficult in the evenings or when there is no wind,” says Pluym. “To overcome this, we will monitor in real-time and make sure that people are charging at the most suitable times in relation to the accessible renewable power.”
This means that it is vital to have communication from the grid. Moving forward, Honda will incorporate grid signals and decide on charging based on this. Ultimately, the service will grow in complexity over time.
For now, it is difficult to roll out this solution globally due to countries with different regulations. This makes it difficult for Honda to simply copy-and-paste its service from one country to another, meaning that it will not be launched in every country at the same time.
“We are aiming to launch the service in the UK alongside the Honda e before we expand to Germany,” says Pluym. “We want to make it very easy for our customers, helping them select the right charging specification, installing the system and offering a flexible tariff through our collaboration with Vattenfall and Moixa.”
In short, Honda is readying a future-proofed one-stop-shop for consumers to enjoy the world of electrification. Get ready for the electric revolution.