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Electric Car Battery Makers Face Shakeup Amid Soft Demand

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Charles Murray
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Re: Lithium Battery Production costs
Charles Murray   9/8/2011 11:49:16 AM
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Ivan: You're right. The costs will undoubtedly decline as production volume rises, and that will certainly boost sales. Most analysts say, however, that the costs won't drop below $400/kWh, and may remain as high as $650/kWh, even as economies of scale kick in. (With the exception of Tesla, which employs 18650 batteries, today's costs are approximately $800-$1,000/kWh.) Assuming an optimistic cost of $400/kWh, a 40-kWh battery will still cost $16,000.

Ivan Kirkpatrick
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Lithium Battery Production costs
Ivan Kirkpatrick   9/8/2011 11:32:33 AM
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What about the costs of producing the batteries?  One way to increase demand is to drive down teh costs.  I am not sure what the cost breakout is but R&D must be significant.  I would also expect eh electronics to manage the battery charging and discharging to be significant as well but probably very sensitive to demand.  after all once the basic controls are designed and implemented with approppriate processors they are readily amenable to cost reductions liek the rest of the digital cotnrol systems have been.  The matieral cost, Lithium and some alloys I am told are not so expensive either.

As we mentioned before increasing the demand by other than EV uses might also be possible.  I can see homeowners adding batteries when they can store lower cost energy for use during higher cost times that depend on their local utility cycles.

Coupling batteries with wind and solar systems would also increase demand but drives the costs of the systems up significantly.

An industry shakeout is coming for sure regardless. 

Charles Murray
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Re: High expectations
Charles Murray   9/8/2011 11:17:14 AM
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You're right, Rob. High expectations play a big role in this. But the analysts we talked to allowed for a wide range of possible scenarios -- a demand of 2 GWh on the low end and 20 GWh on the high end. Even at 20 GWh, however, the demand is still about 10 GWh short of the supply. As a result, companies will still be winnowed out, even under those relatively good conditions.

Rob Spiegel
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High expectations
Rob Spiegel   9/8/2011 10:41:11 AM
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In reading between the lines, Chuck, it sounds like there were high expectations for the EV market that didn't come to realization. Otherwise, why would the market pump up to the point that a shakeout is coming? Have EVs been less popular than expected? If so, why? Is it the costs? Performance issues?

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