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Some Venture Capital Investors Are Focused on Associated EV Technologies, Not Automakers

Experts say a large share of venture capital funding is aimed at “picks and shovels” and not focused on latching on to the next Tesla or Rivian.
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Photo: Recurrent
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For examples of that idea, you can look at a company called Redwood Materials, a group working on methods to recycle lithium-ion batteries for EVs and other devices. Co-founded by JB Straubel, one of the co-founders of Tesla and the company’s former CTO, Redwood raised a staggering $700 million from investors who include T. Rowe Price, Amazon Inc. and others.

Redwood says the mission is to create a circular supply chain for electric vehicles and clean energy products. The idea is to make them more sustainable and drive down the cost of the most expensive component of EVs: batteries.

According to Redwood, is focused on “closing the loop’ at the end of battery life, not just by collecting and recycling batteries, but to fully refine the materials they recover and then remanufacturing them into precision battery materials to use them as raw materials again.

The company sees the opportunity as a chance to reevaluate the existing battery supply chain. Redwood says the chain is a convoluted system that requires materials to travel tens of thousands of miles before they finally find their way into a final product.

And some companies are looking outside the EV hardware sphere entirely.

Recurrent is one of those outside players. Based in Seattle, WA, Recurrent was founded last year and offers third-party reports on used EV batteries. The idea is that such reporting will aid car buyers in determining the life of a particular vehicle. It’s a sort of energy CarFax for battery systems, and the idea is interesting indeed.

“Today the health of an electric vehicle battery is a black box,” they say. “Recurrent is working to change that with advanced machine learning and the support of thousands of EV drivers.”

The hope is that by providing transparency among potential owners in pre-owned electric car transactions, the company can help accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles.

And some investors seem to agree given that Recurrent raised $3.5 million in seed funding late last year.

That’s why some investment pros are saying the smart thing to do is not look for the next Rivian, but to go in search of “enabling technologies” and associated services.
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