Tesla Motors Chief Technology Officer JB Straubel recently predicted that electric-vehicle demand would surge as batteries got cheaper and that the cost-benefit balance would soon swing in favor of EVs. Of course, Mr. Straubel has a horse in that race. Or, shall we say, a very expensive group of them.

Speaking recently at the Intersolar North America conference, Mr. Straubel opined that lithium-ion battery technology has plenty of room for rapid improvement. As most readers likely know, the move from nickel-metal hydride to lithium-ion more than doubles a typical electric vehicle battery pack's energy density.

So while EVs continue to be priced at a premium relative to comparable gas-powered vehicles, that gap will close "soon," said Straubel. How soon? Well, Straubel eventually elaborated that EVs will be more cost-effective to drive than conventional cars within a decade because of improvements in both energy density and grid-storage technology.

Lithium-ion battery-pack costs continue to drop as technology improves and manufacturers reach economies of scale. It was reported this spring that the cost to produce the lithium-ion battery packs that plug-in vehicles use fell by about 14 percent a year for the seven years ended 2014, when costs may have dropped as low as $300 per kilowatt hour (automakers don't give out this kind of specific information). That report estimated that the electric-vehicle price premium could thin out to as little as $2,000 if battery costs fall to about $180 per kilowatt hour by 2020.

You can take a look at Straubel's presentation in the video above. It takes up the first half of the nearly eight-minute clip.

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