March 28, 2022

Simple and social climate action: How Caremiles measures your car's carbon footprint

Winona Rajamohan

Content Marketing Manager

Caremiles makes climate conversations easier by breaking down the carbon impact of your car travel in units of trees. The app has partnered with Smartcar to help drivers measure their vehicle's carbon footprint and offset those emissions on an ongoing basis.

Climate change campaigns aren’t typically known for their optimism.

We're often encouraged to act through phrases like “Facing extinction” and “Stop climate change before it changes you."

Fear-inducing call-to-action phrases are designed for a purpose. These campaigns follow the Extreme Consequence method, in which individuals are shown an undesirable extreme consequence so human emotion can be leveraged as a tool for persuasion.

Today, the most common feelings associated with the climate crisis include feeling alarmed, concerned, angry, sad, and guilty. But in a world heavily riddled with bad news and misinformation — and no social media off switch — negativity bears the risk of desensitizing an already skeptical audience.

Studies have shown that individuals who are engaged with the right emotions are more likely to respond to climate change action in a favorable way.

Caremiles is a climate action platform that uses connected car technology to educate individuals through empowerment instead of fear. The app has partnered with Smartcar to enable drivers to:

✍ Measure their car’s climate impact.
🌳 Mitigate that impact regularly through rewards and incentives.

Demystifying the impact of driving an EV

The average driver is still largely unaware of how EVs are impacting transportation emissions — even existing EV drivers hesitate when asked to quantify the impact their vehicle leaves on the climate.

When coupled with the extreme consequence of an internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicle ban, a lack of understanding about the climate impact of cars can easily lead to skepticism and doubt.

Caremiles is a carbon footprint calculator that aims to make climate science relatable, easy to understand, and exciting to learn about. The app shows drivers their car's climate impact in converted units of trees instead of carbon metric tonnes.

Kashif Sohail, founder and CEO of Caremiles, found an “obvious need to move away from scientific terms and to bring [climate] conversations mainstream.” By quantifying carbon metric tonnes with a unit that everyday drivers can visualize immediately, Caremiles aims to remove barriers to participating in climate discussions at home, school, offices, and social gatherings.

Caremiles uses Smartcar’s API to retrieve data on a vehicle’s VIN and mileage. Based on the vehicle’s fuel efficiency and the number of miles driven, Caremiles calculates the number of trees that need to be planted to offset carbon emissions produced.

After informing users of their climate impact, Caremiles allows them to purchase trees directly within the app to mitigate the impact of their trips. The app partners with Trees for the Future, a global organization aimed at ending hunger and poverty by training farmers to regenerate their land by planting trees.

Rewards make the message stick

In a surge of climate technology apps, Caremiles differentiates itself by modeling its philosophy, product design, and user experience after a behavioral study on the effects of pride versus guilt messaging in environmental campaigns.

“Our work is based on research that shows how creating an image of pride in one’s future based on their actions today is more effective than guilt or fear. This is even more remarkably true when people are making pro-environment decisions,” Sohail says.

Caremiles has facilitated the planting of over 4,000 trees through driver action and a built-in reward system. One of them is an incentive for EV drivers that measures the number of trees saved just by driving an EV around. For every tree saved, Caremiles plants a tree for free. The app will be rolling out incentives for drivers of gas-powered vehicles to help them transition to electric vehicles in the future.

“As I’m driving an EV, it’s awesome to see how I’m making a real difference with the number of trees that I have planted,” says a user in an online review of the app.

Caremiles has also incorporated a leaderboard to allow users to send each other kudos for planting trees as part of its latest feature, Teams. Organizations, schools, and businesses can use Teams to invite friends to track and mitigate carbon emissions together on the app. With Teams, Caremiles is making climate change a more social and engaging topic by allowing drivers to actively keep each other accountable and motivated.

Mobilizing climate education with technology

Designing an impactful and low-friction user experience called for Caremiles to forgo hardware and build their app with a software-based vehicle integration. The app retrieves a car’s VIN and odometer reading directly from the vehicle via connected car technology. This ensures more consistency, transparency, and accuracy than using on-board diagnostic devices and smartphone telematics.

“In my opinion, connected car technology for climate tech is what Zoom was to COVID-19 in mid-2020,” said Sohail.

The app uses Smartcar’s API to enroll drivers across 24 vehicle brands without the extensive cost of building and maintaining custom integrations themselves.

Users can easily connect their vehicles to the Caremiles app using Smartcar's Connect authorization flow. With just a few clicks, drivers can review and approve the vehicle data they share with Caremiles on an ongoing basis.

“In a strategic partnership with Smartcar, we have the opportunity to turn climate change and carbon emissions into a daily social conversation. The ability for a user to securely link to their car’s account dashboard without collecting any private information of the driver is unprecedented,” said Sohail.

Learn more about Caremiles here or download the app on the Apple App Store or Google Play Store today!


Vehicle brands, logos, and model names belong to their respective trademark holders and do not indicate endorsement or affiliation with Smartcar or Caremiles.

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