These days, it might look like consumers are stampeding their dealerships in search of electric cars, but a new study indicates otherwise. The study, “Unplugging The Hype Around Electric Vehicles,” contends that battery-powered electric cars and plug-in hybrids will struggle in the next decade unless oil prices triple. The study reached its conclusions by examining “payback periods” and comparing the costs of operating a gasoline-burning car against the higher initial cost of electric vehicles.
The author of the study, Jacob Grose, provided us with some sobering statistics about electric cars and their batteries. Grose says that an entire battery pack – battery cells, cooling and battery management systems – now cost an astounding $900/kW-hr. Over time, Grose says, those cost numbers will drop to between $420/kW-hr and $470/kW-hr.
But think about it for a minute. That means a big, 60 kW-hr battery pack would cost more than $50,000 today. And that’s just the battery, not the entire car. When production volumes rise, battery prices will drop precipitously, but a big one will still run in excess of $20,000. A smaller 16 kW-hr battery – like those used on plug-in hybrids – might eventually drop to about $6,000, but it’s likely to be about $14,000 today, according to Grose’s numbers.
The bottom line is this: Lux Research believes that pure electrics will be very expensive, and therefore are in for low sales figures. The outlook for plug-hybrids is better, but only if oil prices climb dramatically.
So here’s a question: How much would you be willing to pay for an electric car? Would you pay a $50,000? $40,000? $30,000? And what would you expect for those prices? Would a 100-mile range suffice on a pure electric? Is a six-hour recharge time acceptable? Tell us what you think.