In many circumstances, charging your EV or PHEV still pulls energy from fossil fuel-based energy sources. And while the evidence shows that this is still better for the planet than running around in a gasoline car, there’s still room for improvement. Toyota recognizes this very real issue and just introduced a workaround solution for its plug-in hybrid owners to be part of a solution. It’s called Clean Assist, and while it’s only available for California car owners, the idea has some potential to appear elsewhere later.
The video at the top of this post explains things best with graphics and animations, but we’ll provide a brief summary here, too.
Essentially, owners of the RAV4 Prime and Prius Prime can opt-in to this program through the Toyota app. You then plug in your vehicle like usual, but the Clean Assist services are now tracking the amount of electricity you use while charging. Toyota proceeds to generate or buy an equivalent amount of California-sourced Renewable Energy Certificates to match your “regular energy” with “renewable energy.” These certificates are part of a program recognized by the EPA that records the generation and usage of green energy. Ultimately, the certificates show that you charged your vehicle using “renewable energy,” and generate low-carbon fuel standard credits that can be sold. Those sold credits are used to promote EV incentives, as well as marketing and education about EVs to the public in general.
All of this comes at no cost to the person charging their vehicle, and Toyota promises that it’s only tracking your charging data. You can enroll through the app, and hopefully start to make a small difference, even if your car is still being charged with energy generated from fossil fuels.