Here's an unsurprising lede: A big part of the cost of electric vehicles lies in the batteries. The good news is that this may soon change. Expectations have been that those costs will fall with increased production, and there have even been predictions of battery oversupply in the near future. Combine that with the rising cost of gasoline and – somewhere down the line – it appears that purchasing an EV shouldn't be green just in terms of the good you do for the environment, but also when it comes to your bank account. John Petersen at Alt Energy Stocks, though, sees it quite differently. His analysis is that full electrification will never become affordable.
He suggests that while using batteries in a hybrid makes sense, full on EVs in which batteries become "fuel tank replacements" are a waste of both technology and resources:
Using batteries to enable energy efficiency technologies like recuperative braking is sensible conservation.
Using batteries as fuel tank replacements is a zero-sum game that consumes huge quantities of metals for the sole purpose of substituting electricity for oil.
His analysis, titled "It's Time to Kill the Electric Car, Drive a Stake Through its Heart and Burn the Corpse" certainly sounds decisive-and also more than a little depressing. And angry. However, Peterson's numbers have some curious assumptions hiding among the authoritative-sounding results. In short, his numbers suggest that if you buy an EV at current prices and performance, you're unlikely to save money compared to an ICE vehicle unless gas prices rise steeply or you keep your EV running past the warranty – a conclusion that should stun no one. Getting from there to "burn the corpse" seems quite a leap, but Petersen doesn't stop with putting a stake through the Leaf and Volt. In his opinion, Tesla is "doomed" and A123 should "stop chasing rainbows" and limit themselves to motorcycles.

Does he have nothing positive to say about battery-powered cars? Well, actually, he does:

The surprise winners in a resource constrained world will most likely be disruptive innovations like... Axion Power International.

Wait a minute. Who is Axion? They're "a small public company involved in advanced lead-acid battery research and development." And just who is John Petersen? "From January 2004 through January 2008, he was securities counsel for and a director of Axion Power International, Inc." And just how objective is his analysis? According to Alt Energy Stocks, "Some of the stocks mentioned on the site are owned by the editors." This is far from the first time Petersen has attacked lithium batteries and touted Axion or its partners as an alternative. Please keep that in mind before sharpening any wooden implements.



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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 110 Comments
      TJP
      • 3 Years Ago
      Do they dig up these guys from the oil wells? Where else could they pop up? Oh, and it's complete BS that batteries are too expensive. If we're comparing batteries to a gas of tank, then we should take the full lifetime of the battery pack into account. Even today you can get about 25kWh LiFeYPo4 battery set (suitable for an average EV) for about 7000-9000 euros here. It can sound much, but you could travel some 200 000 miles with it (assuming 100 mile range and 2000 recharge cycles), which would cost 30 000 euros just in gasoline over here(!) and pumping about 40+ tons of CO2 into the atmosphere at the same time. Not to mention all the maintenance costs with a gasoline powered car. So don't tell me electric ain't economical. And when mass produced, electric car itself (without the batteries) should definitely be cheaper to manufacture than a gasoline car. And the batteries WILL become even cheaper, when the volumes grow up and the real competition begins. Or what about a used Prius, modded with the Plug In Supply 10kWh kit? (www.pluginsupply.com) In about $20k total. And I can drive all my daily travels with pure electricity (even up to 72mph and 50 mile range). And when I need to go further, it's a really nice hybrid. This is my current plan of getting an "EV", before there's proper mass produced EV models available.
        • 22 Minutes Ago
        @TJP
        I defy you to show a quoted price for a battery which has undergone automotive certification tests for quality yield and reliability for less than $800/kw-hr. PLEASE post a link. Not for a Winston (Thundersky) which has done nothing of the sort in an established auto engineering environment (Japanese, European, US). A 24kW-Hr automobile battery does not exist in a production environment for less than $16,000, and that would be more than half the cost of a suitably sized car. I WILL tell you electric "ain't economical" because in fact it is NOT.
      • 3 Years Ago
      I've been reading Petersen's ranty "fact" riddled papers for longer than I care to admit. If I know that they are biased and almost always wrong in their predictions, why do I keep reading them? This one in particular is latching on to the currently "very high" prices of important metals that are currently used in several of the leading lithium ion chemistry variants. However, what he failed to mention (and what he never seems to talk about), is that the material costs for both LiFePO4 and for LiMn2O4 (as well as for NCM and all the other "low cobalt high capacity" variants) are much lower than for traditional cobalt based cells. We've pretty much seen the "near bottom" for 18650 laptop cells (cobalt based) and it's true that if we had to stick with that type of cell + chemistry we'd probably never see $100/kWhr automotive battery packs... meanwhile we're already seeing prices of $350/kWhr for LiFePO4 now (you can even buy them in low quantities). Peterson is just stuck in the past. He'll catch up eventually once he has better data on the material costs for newer chemistries. I suppose I read Peterson's articles because he reminds me of the unpopular Fuel Cell naysayers in the late 90s and early 2000s who turned out to be right!
      EZEE
      • 3 Years Ago
      Evil right wing extremist here. Although not a fan of the high cost and limited range of the current electric vehicles (and, the thought of plugging one in does NOT bother me), they are good experiments that show great promise. Why say they are dead? Nothing wrong with continued research. Who knows, maybe we will have a breakthrough on technology that makes all of this more efficient. I rented an escape hybrid and it was a hoot to drive. Like other hybrid people, I did all I could to keep the gas motor from kicking on (which was ironic because I bought the tank of gas ahead of time). And, evil right winger I am, if I had an electric car, I would bring an extension cord everywhere I went to plug the damn thing in so I would not have to use my own electricity! So let's keep trying, maybe soon we get it right!
      Michael Walsh
      • 3 Years Ago
      Time to drive a stake into John Petersen and/or Axion. Talk about blood ******* vampires!
      goodoldgorr
      • 3 Years Ago
      He's a poor analyst, he don't make the difference between the volt and the leaf.
      fly by wireless
      • 3 Years Ago
      This guy is full of bullshit. He couches the value of fuel saved in terms of a fixed amount of batteries among a number of vehicles. which favors the Hybrids. Bullshit. That's a rhetorical trap. How about comparing the gas saved by making all the vehicles electric? That was the central "logic" of his argument and it's utterly baseless and manipulative. Then there's the fact that Li batteries don't contain much in the way of Li and that's not a rare metal, they're non-toxic, and they're easily recyclable. Nothing of value here folks, move on (except a lesson in rhetorical manipulation, cherrypicking and manipulation of facts).
        fairfireman21
        • 22 Minutes Ago
        @fly by wireless
        "How about comparing the gas saved by making all the vehicles electric? " How about comparing the purchase price of an EV to an already owned gas car with good mileage. How about comparing travel time to price of EV.
          Ernie Dunbar
          • 21 Minutes Ago
          @fairfireman21
          I have: http://gromm.livejournal.com/215602.html Notice that unlike John Petersen, I've already assumed that gas prices will exceed $5.00/gallon. Because they already do where I live.
          Spec
          • 21 Minutes Ago
          @fairfireman21
          An already owned gas car beats an new gas car too! Duh. That is silly argument. A new gas car may beat a new EV right now too. It all depends on the future price of gasoline.
        Marco Polo
        • 22 Minutes Ago
        @fly by wireless
        "How about comparing the gas saved by making all the vehicles electric? " That's John Peterson's argument. Car buyers will purchase hybrids. 3.7 million hybrids have been sold so far in comparison to a few thousand EV's. John's argument is that if the subsidies for EV's were removed, or applied to hybrids and EVs equally, hybrid sales would exceed EV's by such a disproportionate ratio that the fuel savings would be in favour of hybrid production. You can't alter reality by pretending that more people will buy EVs than hybrids.
          Ernie Dunbar
          • 21 Minutes Ago
          @Marco Polo
          Yeah... 3.7 million hybrids have been sold "so far" because they've been *for sale* for nearly 12 years. I'd have to admit that the Nissan Leaf has "only" sold 6100 units to the US in the past 9 months, versus Toyota's what, 70,000 Priuses? But consider this: The Toyota Prius only sold 6000 units worldwide in its first year of production. And the Leaf has been selling as fast as it could be produced this year. It's not even available everywhere yet, and it won't be next year either. I'm sure that lots of people will buy hybrids over electrics for a while yet. And I'm also sure that a lot of those same people will buy an electric for their *second* car. Either that, or a minivan.
      fairfireman21
      • 22 Minutes Ago
      He is refering to if you are rich enough to afford an electric to begin with. The average Joe like me could not afford to own one, still by far a lot cheaper to have a gas car.
      • 22 Minutes Ago
      Hi EVSUPERHERO, I would like to eliminate all subsides everywhere. Hiding true costs makes it difficult for people to make intelligent decisions. However, I used the phrase "generally oppose subsidies" because it is possible, although I can't think of a single instance at the moment, where they might useful. But, I really don't see that ever coming up, so I would be happy with their complete elimination. :)
      harlanx6
      • 3 Years Ago
      He is obviously grinding his own axe, but some of what he says does make sense. The obvious reaction from the lockstep left is intellectually vacant name calling for anyone not in lockstep with them, but we need to run this by our own bull sh*t tests to see if his arguments have any validity. EVs obviously have a niche and competition from the Ice folks will drive the productuion costs down or they won't amount to much. For most people modern ICE vehicles are still the superior choice because fuel is still cheap (before taxes), and EVs tend to be very small and austere (and rediculously expensive).
        fairfireman21
        • 22 Minutes Ago
        @harlanx6
        You are right about ICE vehicles being right for most. What is a 200 mile drive in an ICE? About 30-35 dollars and 3 hour drive time. What is 200 miles in an EV? About a 2 day trip if you can find a charger or place to plug in at.
        Spec
        • 22 Minutes Ago
        @harlanx6
        Are you telling me that you have to believe in false information to be on the right? That is pretty sad.
          EZEE
          • 22 Minutes Ago
          @Spec
          If someone on the right says something, it must be false! Pardon me while I prepare for the coming global ice age, plus I will never use my microwave because of the dangers! (news from the 1970's left...)
      Spec
      • 3 Years Ago
      John Petersen is an internet troll that runs a Swiss boiler room operation. He produces massive amounts of bovine excrement with enough facts to make it look legit but key non-facts and massive amounts of sophistry to convince people to believe things are are simply not true. When Nissan Leaf hit the market with a cost of $32.5K he maintained that Li-Ion batteries cost $1000/KWH and no less. That would mean that with a 24KWH battery costing $24K, the entire rest of the Nissan Leaf (the entire car, controller, motor, battery control system, marketing, manufacturing, shipping, . . . all of it would need to cost less than $8.5K just for them to break even. He endlessly pushes that EVs are useless because his company makes batteries that are useless for EVs since they weight too much (lead-carbon). Thus, he wants everyone to buy hybrids and start-stop gas cars. Because that is what will benefit him, personally.
        Spec
        • 22 Minutes Ago
        @Spec
        I wrote that first post before looking at the article. I was kind of surprised to see him STILL pushing the $1000/KWH garbage from a year ago. I just hope he recycles his literal garbage as much as he recycles his literary garbage.
        • 22 Minutes Ago
        @Spec
        Yep. Petersen has been grinding axes forever.
      • 3 Years Ago
      This very opinion from Mr. Petersen was floated all over the internet way back in 2008. Amazing he is just reusing old garbage.
        Spec
        • 22 Minutes Ago
        Yep . . . I just looked at the article and it is cut & paste of his old garbage. He is STILL insisting that Li-Ion costs $1000/KWH. That is simply dishonest. GM has said they are paying closer to half that amount. And when you look at his retarded graph on pay-back in 5 years, you'll see that someone who drives a car with a $500/KWH battery makes back their investment when they drive a 10K miles per year (which is pretty much average in the USA) if gas prices around $4/gallon (which is what I pay). His own chart is telling that a Nissan Leaf will pay for itself RIGHT NOW! And as gas prices go up further, the EV will just become better and better.
          2 Wheeled Menace
          • 22 Minutes Ago
          @Spec
          $500/kwh is roughly the retail cost that i pay for my ebike batteries. GM's cost has to be lower than that.
      Refz
      • 3 Years Ago
      My bet's on H2 now. Take a look: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110830151229.htm
        letstakeawalk
        • 22 Minutes Ago
        @Refz
        Don't turn this into one of those threads... This is a case where an investor in a battery supplier is attacking his own - lead-acid attacking other chemistries, for no good reason. This is bad journalism ethics at its worst. (also, using journalistic jargon like "lede"? Not so bad, but not really encouraged)
        Marco Polo
        • 22 Minutes Ago
        @Refz
        Refz, have you met Gorr, y'know GoodoldGorr? No ? Well, I can just see you two are kindred spirits!
          letstakeawalk
          • 22 Minutes Ago
          @Marco Polo
          Marco Polo, Refz posted a great article - he just might be unaware of the rabid anti-hydrogen faction that reads ABG. He should repost that article in another ABG post, one which is H2 related. Or, he should submit it to ABG directly as a link - read it, it's very good.
          Marco Polo
          • 22 Minutes Ago
          @Marco Polo
          My apology, I may have jumped to the wrong conclusion!
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