Sep 25, 2020 - Economy

Recurrent aims to help buyers get a better idea of battery life in a used electric vehicle

2011 Nissan Leaf. Photo: Nissan

2011 Nissan Leaf. Photo: Nissan

Recurrent, a new Seattle-based startup, aims to answer the most commonly asked question by people considering a used electric vehicle: "How much battery life is left?"

Why it matters: You can get a decent idea of how long a traditional used car will last by knowing how many miles are on the odometer. But longevity in an electric vehicle is harder to predict and depends on many factors, including how and where the vehicle was driven and the battery's charging history.

  • Frequent fast-charging, for example, causes an electric vehicle's battery to degrade faster, notes Guidehouse Insights analyst Sam Abuelsamid.
  • Environmental factors also play a role, says Recurrent co-founder and CEO Scott Case.

The good news: Electric vehicle batteries, in general, are holding up better than experts predicted in the early days, Case said. Yet there's still a lot of variability, even among the same makes and models.

The uncertainty about battery life is one reason electric vehicles generally have lower resale values than traditional used cars.

  • By offering a reliable prediction of how long a used electric vehicle will last, Recurrent hopes to give people more comfort about their purchase.

How it works: Recurrent solicits detailed data on range and battery conditions from a nationwide fleet of volunteer electric vehicle drivers.

  • The data includes information on thousands of cars from different manufacturers, with different battery pack configurations, and different operating environments, ages and odometer readings.
  • The company's algorithms can then predict future battery life and range, by vehicle identification number, for nearly every used electric vehicle offered for sale, Case says.
  • Vehicle reports are available through participating car dealers and through the company's website.

Recurrent is a recent spinout of Pioneer Square Labs, the Seattle-based startup studio.

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