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Here's some non-news: the Department of Energy Secretary, Steven Chu, supports plug-in vehicles. Want proof? Click here, here or here. Want to know how he can still get headlines? By saying that electric cars that offer twice the range of the Nissan Leaf (so, around 140 miles) while costing $25,000, "is a very real price that we can maybe achieve in a decade." Chu made the statement in a DOE workshop in Dearborn, MI last week.

Is Chu being too ambitious and positive here? Hard to know for sure, but he's been even further out there before. In 2011, he said, "To buy a car that will cost $20,000 to $25,000 without a subsidy where you can go 350 miles is our goal" possibly by 2017.

Chu also admitted in Dearborn that plug-in vehicles are too expensive today, calling out the Leaf for being $10,000 too much for many buyers. Plug In Cars reports that the tone of the speech "suggests that [Chu] believes that plug-in cars with relatively smaller batteries, and a back-up gas engine on board to extend range, might be a more feasible way to bring down costs." The West Coast Energy Secretary Tesla Motors' Elon Musk has other ideas.



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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 79 Comments
      Naturenut99
      • 2 Years Ago
      PR, I think it's Dan's EGO is the true over-achiever. His brain just goes along for the ride. Just like the heart can over-ride the brain on reality/logic, when it wants something and thinks it can get it.
      DaveMart
      • 2 Years Ago
      '“All our bottom up calculations, as well as the purchase prices that we hear from OEMs, leads us to a cost level of $250/kWh,” Bernhart explained. “That’s the price level we see in the market for 2015.” Remember, however that this recent analysis concentrates on the cost of the actual battery cells themselves, not the cost of the associated battery management modules, wiring and casing. ' http://www.greencarreports.com/news/1077100_are-electric-car-batteries-already-at-250-per-kwh-analyst-says-yes
        Elmo Biggins
        • 2 Years Ago
        @DaveMart
        Show where it says that, specifically. "These cost level projections have always included the entire battery pack, so I doubt what you are saying.
          DaveMart
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Elmo Biggins
          ?? It is a direct quote from the source I give. Since I don't have access to the full report, I can only quote those who do. Contrary to that which you claim, it is equally common to give prices at the cell level, and to make the distinction clear.
        • 2 Years Ago
        @DaveMart
        Dave, The article - which I did take a look at - also says this (maybe even more importantly): "In fact, Bernhart’s calculations show battery packs have already reached the kind of prices that Pike Research said wouldn’t happen until 2020." And the final question: "We’re pleased to see that automakers are finally paying a lot less for lithium-ion battery packs, but have one tiny question to ask. When will these lower costs be reflected in sticker prices?" Chu says maybe in 10 years (or so). We'll see. Actually, he also has to somehow validate their decision to go exclusively battery for vehicle electrification (scrapping everything else). But, what you should have already learnt from the usual replies on ABG is this: These kind of articles (e.g. like on Green Car Reports) are payed by Big Oil - not to mention - evilly biased because of evil governments' evil conspiracies, whose evil monomaniac-pathological obsession is being to send battery technology deep down to the bottom of the hellish Hell. That's what you have to understand Dave already. #jk
          • 2 Years Ago
          Further stubborn problems with batteries (apart from price): Even if - with the $7500 government subsidy - you can get economically even in the lifetime of the car (or soon maybe without the subsidy too) you still get - as an attach string - long recharge times and a limited range, which is simply unacceptable for most people (and what they don't have bear with fuel cell cars). And finally to cite you: Yes: "That is why Nissan is reluctant to up pack sizes, and that is why the big car companies are looking to fuel cells, not batteries, to achieve long distance." And they do this not due to some evil conspiracy, but because they make business, where consumer demand is the primary deciding factor. #primarydecidingfactor
          DaveMart
          • 2 Years Ago
          Not so long ago I was taking a lot of flak on sites like 'Seeking Alpha' for saying that Renault battery lease prices suggested production prices of the order of $400 kwh. Prices are falling very nicely. The thing people who argue that battery prices will drop indefinitely do not take into account though is that getting to the stage where most people can afford an 85kwh pack like that is the Tesla is that with anything like present technology once prices have dropped to around $200 kwh then further price reductions are really tough, as materials are so substantial a part of it. At $200 kwh that is still a $17,000 pack. In addition although prices to produce batteries are falling, as are prices for the rest of electric vehicle components, there is still $7,500 of subsidy to learn to do without, as well as at some stage equalisation in respect of fuel taxes. That is why Nissan is reluctant to up pack sizes, and that is why the big car companies are looking to fuel cells, not batteries, to achieve long distance.
      Dan Frederiksen
      • 2 Years Ago
      PR, what have I forgotten?
      Dan Frederiksen
      • 2 Years Ago
      by decent human you mean a good little sheep that doesn't object and think
      Nick
      • 2 Years Ago
      It'll be a lot less than 10 years. I predict 5 years.
        SNP
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Nick
        Then i'll predict 15. lol. You guys need to read between the lines. He probably meant 25k to produce a car, not what it would sell for. And that 25k @ 140mi range is most likely a MiEV sized vehicle - not a typical midsize / compact sedan. The official says one thing, and the news outlets misconstrues it to either an overly optimistic tone. Remember this blog is managed by a very liberal outlet meant for greenies.
          Joeviocoe
          • 2 Years Ago
          @SNP
          The Coda already costs less than $25k to produce at extremely low volume by a startup company. And it gets 125 miles per charge. With higher volume, and a major manufacturer... that goal should be too easy. Getting the retail price down that low, might take a while.
      fred schumacher
      • 2 Years Ago
      Manufacturers are caught in a conundrum. The primary purpose of an electric vehicle is commuting, that is, a regular daily run over a limited distance, which could most readily be accomplished in a single-purpose vehicle, a narrow 3-wheel, inline two-seat "motorcycle." Let us say, something based on Piaggio MP3 morphology. However, the industry is terrified of attempting to sell non-standard vehicles to a market dominated by multi-use ones. They all remember the Chrysler Airflow disaster, a car too far ahead of its time. So they produce BEVs that are based on and look like everyday cars on the road, resulting in an expensive, heavy vehicle with short range. Until a manufacturer has the courage to make the leap into unknown territory, BEVs will remain stagnant in the marketplace, occupying a comfortable but small niche.
        Joeviocoe
        • 2 Years Ago
        @fred schumacher
        Fuel economy gains in normal gasoline cars could be easily achieved in those " narrow 3-wheel, inline two-seat "motorcycles".... the reason we don't drive these "non-standard" vehicles has nothing to do with drive train, and nothing to do with the driving range. Crash testing shows that a motorcycle or a narrow 3-wheel vehicle will NOT survive a collision with a regular vehicle. People NEED to transport children. And for that, 4 wheels is needed. I don't like SUV and cars that are too big for what they are used for... but lets not get it twisted... there are lower limits to what people will accept as a mass market vehicle. The manufacturers are doing just fine for emerging EVs.... there are plenty of markets where EVs fit very well into... much larger than any 'niche'.
          fred schumacher
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Joeviocoe
          There are no 3-wheel cars on the market that have been designed to meet modern crash standards. They could be. Look at the horrific crashes of open-wheel racing cars in which drivers survive. I'm proposing a 3-wheel, tadpole (2 front, 1 rear) with an enclosed roll-cage body. Nearly 80% of the time, we drive alone. On average we use a two-ton vehicle to move a 200 pound payload. This is where the inefficiency originates. Most of the time we are not carrying children, dogs and lumber from Home Depot. Most of the time we are alone. What is needed is a vehicle to meet the modal (most common) purpose rather than the ultimate purpose. If such a vehicle costs half the price of a standard sedan and takes up half the room in a garage, then an average family could afford and store one multi-purpose vehicle and two commuters with existing income and infrastructure. A narrow vehicle, if standardized in width, would allow for increased highway capacity without increased road width, since such a vehicle could use a narrower lane. Note all the motorcycles that ride side-by-side in one lane.
      Roy_H
      • 2 Years Ago
      I used to think he was our savior, and would make the original prediction of 350mi and $25k a reality with continued government promotion. Now he has given up, and making a safe prediction on what will happen with little or no government help. I am really upset that he refuses to recognize the benefits of LFTR technology. If we built Liquid Flouride Thorium Reactors, then we would have cheap, safe, non-polluting, power with no long term radio-active waste. Instead he is promoting expensive wind and solar, and low cost polluting natural gas power (still more expensive than LFTRs). see http://flibe-energy.com/attributes and http://energyfromthorium.com
        Spec
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Roy_H
        I don't know his position on LFTRs. But he did head the DoE when the USA got the first new reactors licensed in more than 30 years.
        Tim W.
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Roy_H
        I was surprised to see an article today saying that the USA has actually been working with China on their LFTR work, implying that we'll be involved in some technology IP sharing agreement or something... http://www.smartplanet.com/blog/intelligent-energy/us-partners-with-china-on-new-nuclear/17037 I imagine it's being done quietly in back rooms so that no politicians have to say the words "nuclear" and "China" in the same sentence, and the USA doesn't have to take any real risk... I'd still like to see FLibe or Thorenco get funding, but I'll take it from wherever it comes.
          Roy_H
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Tim W.
          Thanks for the link. Good to know that there are some US people at the government level giving recognition to this technology and will be able to report back to the US on China's progress.
      • 2 Years Ago
      Sorry for the spelling Dr Chu but the technology is here today to far surpass the science goals of a magical price for a car tomorrow what we need are green subprime leases ...More city plugs, electric recharging on highways and amortizing real fuel costs over the life of a vehicle. No doubt there are range limitations so how's the fast rail system? Looking forward to a sustainable and high tech America leading world mobility today with a smart clean grid. We also need all hybrid fuel engines liquid, natural gas, electric and other energy apps.
      2 Wheeled Menace
      • 2 Years Ago
      I have no predictions, other than that the future looks good for batteries. :)
      Dan Frederiksen
      • 2 Years Ago
      200km range at 25k$ can be done today. easily 20kWh can be packaged in 100kg. today. costing 4000$. today
        Timo
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Dan Frederiksen
        You are off by $4000 for 20kWh battery cost, but otherwise I agree. If you go with very light chassis and small size (IE. a two-seater city car) you can make 140mile or 200km range car easily for $25k. It would not be very luxurious and fancy and nobody would probably buy it, but it can be done. By 2022 you probably can have 500 mile version of that for the same price.
          Dan Frederiksen
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Timo
          nobody would buy a high performance EV that is almost costless to drive and affordable to buy? right. and pigs fly. placing an ipad on the dash doesn't cost that much and neither does aircon. I think a modern 2+2 EV1 would sell just fine. so well that the other car makers would get really really scared. not just the sales alone but the implication, the message, the knowledge it spreads. and what do you know about battery cost?
        2 Wheeled Menace
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Dan Frederiksen
        $200/kw-hr for a finished battery? You trippin, daniel-san.
          2 Wheeled Menace
          • 2 Years Ago
          @2 Wheeled Menace
          Hmm, welding hundreds-thousands of tabs... check... What about the BMS? What about the cooling? Crash proof pack enclosure? Do those things all cost $0?
          Dan Frederiksen
          • 2 Years Ago
          @2 Wheeled Menace
          how much does it really cost to weld together tabs. Bob Lutz once said there is 6 minutes of labor in making a car lead acid battery. if the costly cells aren't the vast majority of the cost they are doing it wrong.
          Dan Frederiksen
          • 2 Years Ago
          @2 Wheeled Menace
          close
      Spec
      • 2 Years Ago
      Yeah, the complexity of PHEVs is something that worries me. The fact that the Volt has *3* clutches is not something to brag about . . . that is a bit worrying. It eliminates the 'low maintenance & repairs' advantage of pure EVs.
      Spec
      • 2 Years Ago
      One thing I like about what Chu has said is that it seems he firmly "gets" the market issues. He realizes that: 1) The Leaf is $10K too expensive to achieve much mass adoption; and 2) The range of the Leaf is too short for it to achieve mass market adoption. So he seems to have a good grasp of where the goal needs to be in order to get people to start buying the cars in decent numbers. He realizes that the current Fisker & Tesla models are just high-end projects being used to help further develop EV technology that will eventually work its way down to lower priced cars.
        DaveMart
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Spec
        Indeed.
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Spec
        As a rare moment in life (about Spec's posts) I can second this assessment: Indeed. #raremomentinlife
        Dan Frederiksen
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Spec
        Spec, you like him because this genius realized the Leaf is a bit too expensive for comfort? wow, what would we do without such brilliant insight. give the man a second nobel prize have you ever heard him speak with determination? with focus, with drive. have you ever heard him speak about the missed opportunities in aerodynamics and weight reduction. have you ever heard him say even remotely critical things about anyone. but what this super clown _has_ said is stuff like battery density needs to be at least 5 times higher than it is now and preferably 7, for battery cars to compete with gasoline cars. that would give electric cars a range up to thousands of kilometers per charge. sure that would be neat but necessary?? clueless he is unfit for his position in the extreme. he seems to be ok on the research side of things but he utterly fails to understand the implementation potential of current technology and seems totally oblivious of the need to do it. he acts as if there is all the time in the world and nothing matters.
          Dan Frederiksen
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Dan Frederiksen
          there was no consumer acceptance for electric drive either. should we indulge that stupidity as well or change it. Chu doesn't realize a thing
          Spec
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Dan Frederiksen
          He also realizes that the cars cannot deviate severely from the existing cars in order to garner consumer acceptance and pass existing regulations. But I didn't mention that since everyone but you already seems to know that.
        Joeviocoe
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Spec
        How does Chu feel about the Volt?
          Joeviocoe
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Joeviocoe
          I'm getting a bit more optimistic about the Volt. The "official" report from the DOE to congress stated the following regarding PHEVs: ""Generally speaking, the larger the onboard battery, the less 'the choice of fuel used' for onboard power generation will affect the overall amount of LDV petroleum use and emissions produced." - DOE EIA 2008 http://www.eia.gov/oiaf/servicerpt/hydro/index.html So essentially, with a big enough All-Electric Range... it won't matter much if the Range Extender was gasoline, diesel, Hydrogen FC, or the blood of your enemies... the overall petroleum reduction would be extremely significant. So if GM would kindly increase production and drive down the price of the Volt... then competition would seriously spur for every automaker to build at least one PHEV in every vehicle class. And then, at some point, some automaker will figure out how to squeeze a Leaf sized battery pack, into a PHEV (EREV) like the Volt. A 80 mile AER PHEV (PHEV-80) would really change the game, making gasoline stations something that is only visited when leaving town. And should reduce overall petroleum consumption just as low as a FCV would have.
          Spec
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Joeviocoe
          The article seems to indicate he is for it. I think he has an agnostic attitude between pure EVs and PHEVs . . . whatever works. What ever sells.
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