The cost of plug-in electric vehicles is right up there with perceived loss of convenience as a stumbling block for mass adoption of electric vehicles. To help figure out what it will take to climb over the cost hurdle, the U.S. Dept. of Energy would like to hear from you.

In March, President Obama introduced the EV Everywhere Grand Challenge, with the goal of enabling, within 10 years, U.S. companies to produce plug-in electric vehicles that are as affordable to families as other cars on the market. And to be first in the world to do it. Public comments on the EV Everywhere Initial Framing Document must be received by October 29, 2012 at the latest.

The framing document was developed as a means to receive stakeholder engagement in the planning process and then serve as the common framework through public information exchanges and public comment. The document offers some potential combinations of PEVs and charging infrastructures to accomplish EV Everywhere objectives: plug-in hybrids that have a 40-mile all-electric range and then limited fast-charging infrastructure; all-electric vehicles with 100-mile ranges along with access to significant intra- and inter-city fast charge infrastructure; and 300-mile EVs and a whole lot of inter-city fast charge infrastructure.

Questions will be asked to delve in the issues, such as whether the goals of developing PEVs with a payback time less than five years, sufficient range and fast-charging ability is appropriate. The optimal roles of the private sector, government laboratories, and academia in accelerating PEV technology will also be explored. If you want to chime in on these issues, now's the time.

Early versions of the three categories defined for study – plug-in hybrids with 40 mile battery only range, EVs with 100 mile range or 300 mile range and fast charging capabilities – are already on the market. The problem is that their sticker prices are higher than what typical American families consider viable, even when there's access to federal tax incentives and state rebates. Significant levels of fast charging networks are also on the horizon.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 8 Months Ago
      Batteries are expensive, but the cost is partially offset by the lack of need for a big, complex and expensive ICE, exhaust system, gas tank etc... Compared to other cars (A6; 5-series, E-Class), the Tesla Model S is actually a good deal.
      SVX pearlie
      • 8 Months Ago
      A lot of this is just pure silliness, and focused on as-is technology, versus a more reasonable to-be environment. The idea of Volt-like 40+ER, Leaf-like 100+, and 300+ Tesla misses the entire point of having a robust, accessible, and efficient EV infrastructure to support ubiquitious EV use. The biggest plug-in gains will come from 5-10 mile PHEVs, 20-25-mile EREV, and 40-50-mile EREV, supplemented by at-work charging, along with mass adoption of hybrid technology. With the vast majority of people driving less than 40 miles per day, 100+ and 300 mile BEVs make no sense whatsoever at a consumer level, at least until battery charge density weight cuts in half or a third, and motor efficiency by weight doubles. Assuming "fast" charging, even a freight delivery vehicle only needs 200 miles AER before it returns to depot for midday fast charge and then overnight trickle.
      • 8 Months Ago
      I have to agree with SVX pearlie. It's just ridiculous that I can't find a decent NEV in this country. In Palm Beach County you'd think there would be at least something available. And I'm not sure how much public input DOE actually wants as their comment form requires an organization name - a required field - for the form to be submitted.
        2 Wheeled Menace
        • 8 Months Ago
        They won't allow them to be made. There is no classification between basically a golf cart and a highway speed capable vehicle. If there was a middle ground - a car that topped out at 45-50mph - that could make for a very useful, light, small city car. If you don't have to design a car to be crashed at 75mph, you can take a lot of liberties with design and drop tons of weight. I think that would challenge the status quo too much, so we can't have that ;]
      • 8 Months Ago
      Disagree 2WM, efficiency in EV's is important, just not in the drive train. Better aerodynamics and lighter weight materials can provide longer range with smaller packs, keeping costs lower. If VW made their X1 car a full EV it could get amazing range with a small pack and be a fully capable vehicle.
      Giza Plateau
      • 8 Months Ago
      A more energy efficient vehicle needs less battery. But they probably wont listen.
        2 Wheeled Menace
        • 8 Months Ago
        @Giza Plateau
        Electric drivetrains are already 80%-90% efficient, from the wall to the wheel. The problem is that it takes a lot of energy to move at highway speeds. And a battery does not carry a lot of energy, relative to gasoline. The battery is expensive too. So efficiency really isn't the issue so much. Compare an EV to a gas car - the EV is at worst 80% efficient, the gas car is at best 30% efficient.. lol
      • 8 Months Ago
      The feds need to find a way to get the car companies to really buy into this, and start selling at the volumes that will bring prices down. No car company is all that serious. It takes a certain number of vehicles to get the costs down to the place where these cars would make economic sense. Let's discuss GM for instance, and this is only because we have some information lately that allows us to speculate (if you think the numbers in the recent Reuters article are correct - but this would apply to all others too). GM has fixed cost of $1.2B for the Volt development and their production costs are $24,000 per vehicle. So if they sell 75,000 vehicles, they will recover their fix costs and then have a vehicle that cost them $24,000 to make, and probably less as cost will continue to come down if volumes go up. On the other hand, they charge customers about $40K per vehicle, with $16,000 going to fix costs. I calculate that for most people the price of the cars needs to be in the $25,000 dollar range, in order for the vehicle to be caparable in total cost of ownership to a four cylinder 5 speed car that get's 30+mpg and cost $15,000. But without the tax incentives GM would have to sell at $25K and if they can get their cost to say $20K they can sell at $25K and make 20%. But, they are now charging about $40K, which with the tax credit still means people are paying $32 approximately. I also calculate that if they were to assume that they would sell millions, and expect to recover their fixed cost over say 250,000 vehicles, they could charge about $32K for the car now, thus meaning that the consumer would be getting an economically justifiable purchase that just also happens to be green and patriotic. This price would be an easy sell to many, because despite what people say, many americans can do math. So what I am saying is how do the feds get the car companies to quit being a bunch of frightened people? Because to me that is the real hold up, not the batteries, not the range, not the availability of chargers, not the safety. It is that the companies are so risk averse they refuse to move forward. So I mentioned that at the current price and cost GM will have their fixed cost paid off by the time they get to 75,000 units. The question then is, why do we subsidize these out 500,000 units. Seems to me all risk is gone once they are just fixing a price above their costs. The uncertainty was in development cost pay back. In addition, it appears that their cost to produce is low enough for them to make good profit and make an economic argument for purchase to the consumers. So what gives fed guys and GM? You all don't talk about this?
      • 8 Months Ago
      I guess that the fast charging will be the most critical block to overcome. Nobody will buy bevs if there is no fast charging everywhere for 15-20 minutes max refill to almost 100% . To date they mess-up the early market with 3 norms, chademo supercharger and sae. Also there is numerous bevs and hybrid without a fast charge plug and some manufacturers have said that you cannot fast charge a battery because of heat issues.
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