The Inflation Reduction Act extends the EV tax credit to certain used vehicles sold through licensed dealers after January 1, 2023. Might an incentive of up to $4,000 sufficiently assuage your fears that a used EV‘s battery might be compromised by a previous owner fast-charging it too often or maintaining it too near 100 percent charge? Seattle-based Recurrent Motors Inc. is working to build buyer confidence in the health of individual used EV battery packs in much the same way CarFax reports a used car’s previous flood or crash damage, rental duty, and maintenance history.
EV owners sign up with Recurrent, establishing a telematics link and sharing their EV’s vehicle identification number (VIN), from which the company learns the battery chemistry and configuration. Their zip code also suggests the climate it’ll operate in. Recurrent then checks in with the vehicle’s battery management system three to five times per day, recording odometer mileage, state of charge, estimated range, and charging status. Other battery “life events” are recorded and verified with the owner, such as battery-pack or module replacement. Thus a daily real-world range figure is calculated and compared against the model’s ideal original range. Privacy-related data regarding location, speed, etc. is allegedly never recorded.
Original Range—Not EPA Range
As with gas mileage, your new EV’s range may vary due to local climate or geographical factors or just because of original-certification politics regarding “adjustment factors.” Recurrent strives to establish each specific EV’s real-world range when new, against which its subsequent range scoring will forever be compared. This allows the range score of a car driven in Minneapolis to be compared with an identical model used and charged similarly in Phoenix, even if their daily real-world range numbers are quite different.
75 Percent Market Coverage
Recurrent has sufficient data to provide Range Reports on 10 of the highest-volume EVs: Audi E-Tron, Chevy Bolt EV and Volt, BMW i3, Ford Mustang Mach-E, Nissan Leaf, and Tesla Models 3, S, X, and Y. These vehicles together account for 75 percent of today’s used EV market. And the company has been signing up users of new EV and plug-in hybrid models that have launched more recently, bringing the data-collection fleet to 50-plus models. Direct reporting on newer models will begin when a critical mass of data is gathered and when those models become more common in used sales. These reports are most accurate for vehicles monitored since new, but artificial intelligence and big-data interpretation fill in gaps reliably.
Free Owner Insight Reports
Owners sign up to share battery data for free, and Recurrent in return provides monthly EV wellness reports and maintains a web dashboard showing current range, projected range in three years, market value, a range comparison versus similar models, a state-of-charge scatter chart showing how much time the battery has spent in its “sweet spot” (between 30 and 80 percent charge), and more. By monitoring such statistics, owners often modify their habits to prolong battery life. Also free is the Sell With Recurrent feature, which gives EV owners a battery-adjusted valuation and helps connect them with a dealer willing to pay a premium for EVs with verifiably good batteries. VIN-specific reports are also free to prospective buyers.
Paid Dealer Recurrent Reports
Dealers are responsible for more than half of all used car sales (a percentage sure to skyrocket among tax-credit-eligible used EVs), so Recurrent generates its revenue by offering CarFax-like battery health reports on used EVs. For those vehicles never registered with Recurrent or for models lacking sufficient real-world data, the VIN is entered along with data about where it was primarily used. A valuation is then generated based on predictive models that interpolate data generated by equivalent vehicles and/or batteries with chemistries and configurations that were monitored under similar conditions.
Recurrent’s mission is to foster the secondary electric vehicle market by alleviating buyers’ fears about an EV’s priciest component—the battery. Might that, plus a tax credit, finally entice mainstream middle-income buyers into used EVs?