Captain Hybrid

Does Anyone Know the True Cost of EV Batteries? (Not Really)

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Ivan Kirkpatrick
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Energy Storage is the Heart of the EV
Ivan Kirkpatrick   9/16/2011 2:59:17 PM

Correct me if I am w2rong but the real heart of the problem with EV is all about the batteries and the controls.  The rest of the car is pretty much the same so the Energy storage aspects are the real issue.  

Electric motors will get some refinements notably in terms of the electric wheel and traction and braking controls built in to the system.  some other issues with weight and materials come into play as well but for the most part these are the same regardless of the power plant for the car.  But the real issues are related to the battery and the control systems.  

And what we see being discussed is a technology and manufacturing issue, cost.  What will it take to bring down the cost, no matter what it really is now it is too high.  Large scale manufacturing and solid demand will reduce costs.  Improved battery chemistry and manufacturing of the cells will bring down costs.  The control systems once they are commoditized and in good demand will bring down costs.

As demand ramps up for the energy storage and control systems we can expect this to drive down costs.  So expanding the applications for these kinds of distributed power storage units will improve demand.

Taking advantage of "time of use" rates for electricity in commercial buildings and residential applications might help drive demand. Right now, the ROI is insufficient to justify the investment.  Imagine if it became very very attractive to invest in a battery storage system for your home and this could be carried over to the EV space.  

I see increasing demand as one of the best ways to drive down costs.  Am I wrong? 

Charles Murray
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Re: Round and round
Charles Murray   9/16/2011 2:58:42 PM
TJ: When we last checked, replacement battery costs for the Volt and Leaf were still unavailable. The old Prius battery, which used a nickel-metal hydride chemistry and was rated around 1.5 kWh, cost about $2,500. It's worth mentioning, however, that in 2008, Bob Lutz of GM suggested that the Volt's initial price factors in the cost of battery replacement, which again makes it difficult to figure out what these packs actually cost.

TJ McDermott
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Re: Round and round
TJ McDermott   9/16/2011 11:50:17 AM
From what you've said, replacing the power storage system in a car would mean replacing the pack, not the cells.  It comes out as a unit, goes in as a unit.  So is there pricing from third-party suppliers of the battery packs yet to prove the $1000 range?

Beth Stackpole
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Re: Round and round
Beth Stackpole   9/16/2011 9:27:17 AM
Well said, Chuck. Thanks for clarifying!

Charles Murray
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Re: Round and round
Charles Murray   9/16/2011 9:14:03 AM
The bottom line is that I believe the experts who say EV batteries are running $800 - $1,000/kWh. Batteries are more than cells and the costs mount up. Sure, no one can say EXACTLY what they cost is. But the 20 or so experts that I depend on have been around the business a long time. They put their names and their companies' names on their estimates. They're not sitting in front of their computers late at night and typing anonymous thoughts under the guise of pseudonyms. And they're not part of a conspiracy that's trying to undermine the electric car market. When Toyota says that the battery costs $500 per additional mile, you can believe it must be expensive.  

Beth Stackpole
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Round and round
Beth Stackpole   9/16/2011 7:18:10 AM
Chuck, just following the numbers is enough to make one's head spin. So what's the bottom line here in terms of the argument? A feeling that automakers are using higher numbers to justify higher prices on EVs, while the other side argues that the battery costs aren't that high, thus shouldn't justify higher vehicle costs?

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