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A paper by a couple of Swedish researchers figures that the price-per-kWh for lithium-ion battery packs is now $410, down from more than $1,000 in 2007. Economies-of-scale, not chemistry advances, will do the most to get that down to $230 by 2018.

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Too many lithium-ion batteries? That's not something battery makers want to hear, but it's music to our ears. It's also the prediction of Munich-based Roland Berger Strategy Consultants

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Electric-vehicle lithium-ion battery-pack costs fell 14 percent during the past year and are down 30 percent from three years ago because of technological improvements and increased production capacity, Bloomberg News reports, citing a study from its sister entity Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

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The cost for lithium-ion batteries used in electric-drive vehicles will fall by about a third between now and 2017 as battery-production technology improves, lithium supply increases and battery packs are sold in higher volumes, green-technology research firm Pike Research said in a report released this week.

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U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu estimates that plug-in vehicle battery costs will have dropped 70 percent between 2008 and 2015 and will fall another 58 percent between 2015 and 2020, giving hope to electric-drive vehicle advocates that the price premium for plug-ins relative to conventional vehicles will narrow during the next few years. Chu also said that the U.S. Energy Department is opening a research center dedicated to improve battery and energy-storage technologies for the transportation

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Last Friday, U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa celebrated the installation of Coulomb Technologies' 500th plug-in vehicle charging station. That's interesting in and of itself, but it was something Chu said that captured our attention. First, Chu opened with this obligatory statement:

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Speaking at a symposium on electric vehicles (EVs) in Toronto, the vice president of Magna E-Car Systems, Dave Pascoe, admitted that even though numerous automakers have committed to producing EVs, the likelihood that these vehicles will have broad appeal depends almost entirely on the price of gasoline. Pascoe believes that high up-front costs will restrict sales of battery-powered vehicles unless the cost of gasoline tops C$1.36 per liter ($5 a gallon U.S. at the current exchange rate.)

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When the Committee on Assessment of Resource Needs for Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Technologies put out its report through the National Academies of Science last month – the one that was very critical of plug-in vehicles (PHEVs) – plug-in advocate Felix Kramer issued a quick response that said, in part, that the report's "science and economics need to be refuted." He has since gone and done just that, and his lengthy response is now available on the CalCars website.

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