Companies Race to Develop Battery Testing Tech to Assess Used EVs

October 30, 2023 10:44:00

Companies are racing to develop technology for certifying the health and performance of used electric vehicle batteries. More than a decade after Tesla popularized mass-market electric cars, the secondhand electric vehicle market is growing larger by the year.

Most initial adopters have already traded in their old EV models for newer ones, and as the market matures and sales increase, we can expect the market for used electric cars to expand even further. The battery health and performance of used electric vehicles will be critical to how they fare in this secondhand market.

An electric car’s value is largely determined by its battery’s maximum capacity and range as the battery accounts for roughly 40% of a new EV’s price. Electric vehicle batteries are designed to last for around 10 to 20 years, and most should have around 80% of their original capacity once they hit the used-EV market.

However, how an EV owner treats their vehicle can affect how much capacity the battery has once the vehicle hits the secondhand market. Certain practices can damage an EV’s battery and prematurely reduce its range while others can preserve its range and keep it at maximum levels for much longer.

Fast charging too often, leaving a fully charged EV dormant for long periods, and regularly charging when the battery is at near capacity can all affect EV battery health negatively. But regardless of how EV owners treat their cars, checking the battery health of used electric cars has been nigh impossible for years now.

Drivers can easily determine the state of a used fossil fuel car’s engine by examining its mileage and years, but no simple verification mechanisms exist for the nascent used-electric-vehicle market. This makes customers less likely to purchase a used EV, even if it is cheaper, which can even affect the performance of the new EV market. Companies are now working to develop tests capable of checking EV battery health in as little as five minutes.

A United Kingdom startup called Altelium has created an electric vehicle battery state-of-health test and certification that will soon launch in more than 5,000 dealerships in the UK and more than 7,000 car dealerships in America through dealer service providers such as GardX and Assurant. Altelium’s business development manager Alex Johns says that the new electric vehicle market won’t function properly if the used car market isn’t functioning optimally.

Dealerships that buy used cars and customers want proof that used electric cars are reliable and still have a lot of battery life left in them. Companies such as Altelium reduce the risk involved in buying used electric cars and incentivize more people to consider secondhand EVs as their next vehicles, while the improved market for used EVs may boost the desirability of new models from manufacturers such as Rivian Automotive Inc. (NASDAQ: RIVN) since motorists can be sure to sell off those vehicles at a decent price once they decide to buy another electric vehicle.

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