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With the extra attention given to President Obama's plug-in vehicle efforts today because of a letter urging the creation of a new federal task force for electric vehicles (EVs), how about we take a look at what the government thinks is happening with EVs now and in the coming years? A recent report (PDF) from the White House and the Department of Energy about how Recovery Act funds have been spent gives us some insight.
Take, for example, the government's chart on the "Forecasted Cost of a Typical Electric‐Vehicle Battery." In 2009, the DOE's Vehicle Technologies Program says, the cost was around $33,000. This will drop to $10,000 in 2015 and then keep sinking, all the way to around $5,000 in 2021 and $3,000 in 2030. The weight of a 100-mile automotive battery will drop significantly, too, the DOE predicts, from around 333 kilograms today to just 55 kg in the 2020-2030 timeframe.

All in all, it's an optimistic and encouraging document. Is it realistic? Well, that's what we're all waiting to find out. You can download it here (PDF). Thanks to Stephen B. for the tip!

[Source: White House (PDF)]


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 24 Comments
      • 4 Years Ago
      I think part of the reason for the relatively conservative cost projections is that they are focussing and got their data from American battery suppliers. The Chinese and other builders do far better in cost/performance.
      Just before the selling price was finalized I had a debate with an American researcher in batteries, who was claiming that the cost of car batteries would remain well over $1,000 kwh for many years, and larger cost reductions were 'impossible'.
      This of course was trashed by the selling price of the Leaf.
      The reason in my view for his misjudgement is that he had access to the results from American labs, and none to what was going on at AESC, the Nissan supplier.
      Similarly, lithium titanate data is usually referenced for energy density to Altairnano, whereas Toshiba has far higher energy density batteries due for production in 2011.
      I commend the Obama administration's push for better batteries, but in my view the cutting edge is likely to remain in the Far East.
      China is the largest car maker in the world, and likely to progressively widen the gap with the US, and is also a major hub for battery production, working with the South Koreans and Japanese.
      Since vehicle, petrol and road taxes are far higher in China than in the US, just as in Europe and Japan, it is much easier in the event of oil supply problems to create a very large market for electric vehicles simply by offering exemptions for a time from some of these taxes.
      I would view the Obama administration's policies as likely to keep the gap in battery production and cost from opening up too widely, but very unlikely to take production and cost leadership away from the Far East.
      This will drive prices much lower much faster than the DOE estimates.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Frankly if the replacement battery is $5K many, if not most owners will simply dump the car, most likely for scrap. Assuming that at the time of replacement the car has traveled 150,000 miles it will likely be 12-18 years old with a resale value of less than the cost of the replacement battery.
        • 1 Month Ago
        Also keep in mind the trade-in value of the battery. A battery with 70% capacity is still very useful for stationary purposes (grid load-leveling, etc.) and would probably get you back a significant portion of the replacement cost.
        • 1 Month Ago
        I don't think it is appropriate to simply take the depreciation of an ICE car and assume it will be the same in an EV.
        Experience of EV vehicles, mostly delivery, has shown that maintenance costs are tiny.
        That is because they don't really have much to go wrong, with most of the fancy transmissions etc not being used.
        If you got one of the liquid glass treatments when you bought it, which cost about £500 here in the UK, I am not sure about the US, and have it repeated every 5 years then rust should be non-existent.
        Even the battery in some variants can be made to last many years.
        Apart from the astonishing lithium titanate battery by Toshiba, which they rate at 20 years minimum, the lithium polymer manganese spinel chemistry Hyundai is using in their hybrid Sonata is good, they reckon, for 300,000 miles before suffering a 10% loss of capacity - and the life of a battery in a hybrid is a lot tougher than in an EV, with the comparatively tiny battery working far harder.

        LED lights, which EVs need for energy efficiency, last many times as long as traditional lights, whilst brake shoes should last hundreds of thousands of miles with regenerative braking.

        I'd see cars lasting until crash damage makes them not worth repairing, perhaps including the batteries if good choices on the chemistry are made.

        That has a very big upside in reducing depreciation enormously, but will make life very tough for folk reliant on the second-hand market.
        Tatty and worn interiors might be the biggest depreciation factor.
      • 4 Years Ago
      depends on what 100 mile capacity is..
      try kWh.
      if 16kWh is 100 mile range then that costs about 5000$ today. today. not 10 years from now.
      but if they mean 24kWh and not just the batteries but an integrated battery system then it's a better guess.
      they forget though that the car can become lighter and more aerodynamic and go twice the distance with the same pack size.
      so it could be less than 2000$ for 160km range by 2020.
        • 4 Years Ago
        i say six years this stuff is starting to move like computer processors every other month new better faster cheaper with Japan China Korea in the game look out.
        • 1 Month Ago
        25kwh is what is considered a 100 mile pack, the chinese are getting close to it already with their LiFePO4 packs. 35kwh would probably get you 100 miles under all conditions.. but not in a large SUV of course.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I agree. What I have seen in ScienceDirect Journal of Power Sources there are already laboratory-stage batteries that are more than five times better than for example those used in Tesla Roadster. Because there will be competition for "who has the best batteries" not only in automotive industry but also in powertools, laptops etc. and because more tightly packed is less-resource consuming to produce I bet that in 2020 you can get 200-300 mile battery at $5000 (100kWh battery).
        • 4 Years Ago
        Timo, 5x higher energy density? got link?
        if a commercial product could go that high with even ½C discharge then it would be all over.
        that would enable 3000+km range
      • 4 Years Ago
      couldn't be quite that cheap. that would be less than 200$/kWh. if so I would very much like to hear where they got them
      • 4 Years Ago
      I think their estimates are conservative, also the starting price I think was based on Tesla's Roadster battery being about $33k but then listed it as 100 mile range instead of 200. They also seem to blur battery only estimates with batteries assembled in automotive ready packs, but in general I take these prices to be complete assemblies. I think the price is below $15k to-day and there is a lot of pressure to get it down very quickly so I think it will be down to $10k by 2012.
        • 4 Years Ago
        "1/2 the EPA rating is a relatively reasonable real world number."
        That's not "reasonable real world" that's (slightly worst than) worst case.

        Anyways, a $/kWh number is probably more useful since we will always argue what is "reasonable" to use as a consumption number. In terms of standards, the EPA numbers are the only ones we have to go by.
        • 4 Years Ago
        at least Tesla gives you the option of "Range Mode".. no one else gives you the opportunity to fully charge the battery... with reason probably.. people do tend to abuse things.

        I think $12k every 5 years is nothing for a sports car of the Roadster class.. I wonder what the options will be in a few years.. larger pack or lighter pack?
        • 4 Years Ago
        "Not so. Tesla Type S is a "full sized vehicle" and can get more than 100 miles with battery smaller (kWh) than Roadster battery."

        Unless:

        1. You use the heat or A/C.
        2. You mount something to the outside of the car (bikes, kayaks, frozen ice/snow, dents) that damages the Cd.
        3. You use something (snow tires) other than low rolling resistance tires.
        4. You have a battery that is not brand new.
        5. You travel at high speeds.
        6. etc.

        "can get" does not equal "will always" or even "will normally get"
        • 4 Years Ago
        100 miles is an optimistic real world estimate for the Tesla pack when installed in a full sized vehicle.

        "Tesla lists 240+ miles per charge - but most people will not see this range for 3 reasons:

        1) It apparently comes from charging in "Range Mode" -- that is charging the battery to 100% and then discharging all the way to 0%. The car gives a warning every time you try this that you are ruining your battery when you do so.

        2) It was achieved running less than highway speeds.

        3) It was using brand new batteries

        If I charge in Standard mode (which gives you access to only about 80% of the battery capacity) and drive conservatively on the highway, I can get about 175 miles on a charge.

        If I charge in Range mode and do the same, I can get 200 miles on one charge.

        If I slow down to under 50 mph and am in Range mode, I can probably come closer to Teslas charge numbers. I have had one trip thus far that matches this profile. I drove almost 200 miles at 50mph and under. I had over 40 miles left on the range estimator when I got home.

        Of course with each charge cycle the battery had hold less energy. What might work today for 175miles on a charge will likely be closer to 150miles in 5 years."

        http://www.teslamotorsclub.com/tesla-roadster/2919-real-miles-drive.html?highlight=highway+range
        • 4 Years Ago
        "Both the Toyota RAV4 EV and Nissan Altra got around 30kWh/100mi EPA combined"

        1/2 the EPA rating is a relatively reasonable real world number.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @Dave
        Range mode is need for the Roadster because the 18650 cells have the shortest life out of all the available li-ion cell types (~500 cycles, ~5 years), so they need to be pampered to extend life. So this point will not apply to all battery types (I haven't seen a range mode in any other vehicle).

        Both the Toyota RAV4 EV and Nissan Altra got around 30kWh/100mi EPA combined (they weigh 3500lbs and 4500 lbs respectively, and are wagon/SUV), so I don't think 100 miles is an optimistic estimate for the 53kWh Tesla pack even in a larger vehicle.
        • 4 Years Ago
        "100 miles is an optimistic real world estimate for the Tesla pack when installed in a full sized vehicle."

        Not so. Tesla Type S is a "full sized vehicle" and can get more than 100 miles with battery smaller (kWh) than Roadster battery.

        There is a bit tricky bit here though. You don't get double the range with doubling the battery and vice versa. Battery weights quite a bit, and that causes losses (mainly rolling resistance). If you can get same energy out of smaller battery that means that you get further with same battery size (kWh).

        Roadster battery weights about 450kg. If you drop half of that away and keep the same energy you get a car with 225kg less weight which means better performance, less rolling resistance etc. giving it better range. Considering that Roadster weights about 1235 kg that would drop that weight to about 1000kg. That's noticeable weight loss. Drop it to 1/3 and you have car with less weight than comparable powerful ICE car.

        About Roadster range, I think that Tesla listed 245miles is combined EPA figure. Roadster gets a lot further in city than in highway. That means you would need to look how far you really can get with your current usage of energy (Leaf has a nice map with radius that shows where you can get. I don't know if Roadster has that same).
      • 4 Years Ago
      I think the Illuminati 52kWh pack cost ~$10K last year.

      Sincerely, Neil
        • 4 Years Ago
        Maybe my memory fails me -- maybe it was $15K? That's a 52kWh pack -- probably good for close to 300 miles; maybe more.

        Neil
        • 4 Years Ago
        couldn't be quite that cheap. that would be less than 200$/kWh. if so I would very much like to hear where they got them
      • 4 Years Ago
      Totally realistic, and it isn't the first time this has been mentioned by a group.

      I've agreed heavily with economic forecasters who have said this before, and i have been using to to preach electric cars and their financial sensibility even when they first come out next year (volt and leaf) which the majority of people still don't agree with.

      A year after your new volt's 40 mile battery warranty is up, (8 year 100k 2011 model year), you'll be able to get a 100 mile battery in it's place, and still have your range extender. (but barely ever use it) Or another 40 mile battery for what, 2 grand? You can ride the volt's battery 15 years if you want, you'll just have around 20-25 miles AER. Then when the car is 15 years old in 2026 you can spend around $4000 to make it last another 15 years with a battery that has 2 1/2 times the capacity of the first one. You've also got your 15 years of gas savings with a 40 mile battery on top of your new gas savings off of a 100 mile battery, with a brand new warranty. And how long do you suppose the warranty will be then if the very FIRST electric car battery warranties are 8 years and 100k like the volt's?

      The gas engine will last 200k+++ miles of direct use i'm sure, maybe more, since it's impossible to redline or mistreat.....

      electrics like the volt and leaf make financial sense from day 1.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Is it possible? Sure.

        Will it *definitely* happen? No. It may happen. You can't predict progress. Laws of physics may stop it. Laws of economics may stop it (Too many people trying to buy the same materials). Etc.

        Hope for the best but don't plan on it.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Totally realistic? Absoultely,

        The battery will only cost the manufacturer around $5K/copy.

        (of course it will cost the taxpayer another $10K in public debt, but in Gov't accounting practices, a penny saved is 2 pennies earned. Example: We only increased spending by 50% of our original projection therefore we reduced spending by 50%)
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