Saving the planet starts with the smallest steps.
Honda is potentially exploring the idea of paying its customers for driving more environmentally friendly. CarBuzz uncovered the patent for this system at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).
In short, Honda wants to downsize the Emissions Trading Schemes (ETS) in operation in various countries. If an automaker comes in below a certain emissions threshold, it earns carbon credits. These credits can be sold to other companies that aren't able to meet standards set by emissions authorities. Buying these credits is the lesser of two evils, as FCA found out when it purchased credits from Tesla.
The problem with ETS is the fluctuation in the monetary value of carbon credits across multiple countries, which is why Honda is proposing the use of a crypto asset management device.
It's a hefty patent filing, and it appears to have been set up for smaller companies and possibly individuals. Honda mentions that you would need a terminal like a PC, smartphone, or tablet for the management device and that two or more of these devices may share the same hardware. The hardware will measure emissions, while the software will grant you access to either an emissions certificate or carbon credits, but not both. This is to prevent fraudulent behavior, where a company or individual will claim and benefit from both.
The goal is to get a document certifying a reduction in carbon dioxide emissions. Obviously, measuring a reduction would have to take place over a certain period of time. Honda mentions a period of two years, but it can be longer.
In a nutshell, the hardware will measure emissions over a specific timeframe, and at the end, the user will be issued with a certificate. This certificate can be exchanged for cryptographic assets managed by a blockchain. You can exchange between various cryptocurrencies and eventually cash out when the time is right.
As mentioned earlier, you can also opt for carbon credits, which are worth $40-$80 each, depending on where you are. The problem is that carbon credits only work on a macro level when there are hundreds of thousands of cars involved. In 2020, Tesla made $1.6 billion from selling carbon credits, but as new electric vehicles are introduced, brands no longer need help. Still, the US government is pushing for even stricter emissions regulations, which means several automakers without EVs could find themselves in trouble from 2027.
We're big fans of any alternative to going fully electric. Some say electric is the only viable possibility, but we say EVs still have some significant issues to deal with.
This is another alternative to keep emissions down like the government wants, and we like that there's an incentive involved. The problem is you will have to hypermile like a boss to make any worthwhile impact on your emissions. What's the point of buying a Civic Si or a Civic Type R if you're not going to enjoy it? There might be some benefit for a small rental agency running a fleet of Accord Hybrids, but we don't see the point for an individual.
While this particular patent is long and full of technical terms, it doesn't point to any potential savings or profit. If we had a clearer picture of how much an individual or entity could earn, we'd be able to make a better call about whether this is an avenue worth exploring. But if Honda is protecting the idea, it must have some merit.