"Back in 2008, a lot of people thought higher (sales) numbers were achievable within 10 years," Michael Holman, a research director at Lux Research, told Design News. "But that's an area where people have come around to more realistic views. They're realizing that it might take a longer time, coupled with some fundamental scientific breakthroughs, before the battery costs get down to the level that's needed."
To be sure, the forecast isn't grim for all electrified vehicles. Plug-in hybrids, particularly those with smaller batteries, seem to have a better near-term outlook. By 2020, Lux Research predicts the auto industry will hit annual sales of 600,000 "light" plug-in hybrids (like the Prius PHV) and 150,000 "heavy" plug-ins (like the Volt). In contrast, Lux says sales of pure electrics will reach just 60,000 per year by 2020.
It's worth repeating that battery size plays a big role in those numbers. The Prius PHV, for example, employs a 4.4kWh lithium-ion battery (hence the higher sales forecast), while the Volt uses a 16kWh pack, the Leaf employs a 24kWh unit, and the Tesla Model S can reach as high as 85kWh. The bottom line is that the vehicles with massive battery packs generally have lower sales expectations.
None of this should be a surprise, of course. Bigger battery packs cost a lot more. And despite the ever-present hype around electric cars, consumers will usually reach for the more cost-effective solution first. "The economics of battery-electric cars don't make a lot of sense right now," Holman told us. "With hybrids -- even micro-hybrids -- you can get similar benefits in terms of reduced gasoline cost for a lot less money."
The CBO report on federal tax credits and electric vehicles is incomplete and relies on poor assumptions. They use no actual statistic from the 40,000 PHEV and BEV's (AEV) that are mentioned in the report.
- It assume that the average range of an all-electric is 55 miles (pg. 32)
- It assumes that EV's are only be charged once per day (pg. 7)
- It assumes that EV's are driven fewer miles than an ICE would be by the same driver
The report was obviously written by people who are only academically familiar with electric vehicles. Who chose not to use available real-world data and instead chose "CBO assumptions."
Toyota just does not want to build an EV, they stated that they were focusing on hybrids-only a couple of years ago.
With the failure of the EV Project, the slow roll-out of infrastructure has hindered the demand of the cars. Constant misinformation supported by very deep pockets is another challenge. However, as I continue driving my Nissan LEAF in my daily commute alongside the gas-burners, people will realize that there is a lot of money to be saved by owning an EV.
Chuck, the situation with battery packs seems to be following the trajectory of nuclear fusion. Let me explain. The situation in fusion is that we know we can generate energy from it, but can it be sustained and can it be better than break even. There is even a big international project underway. It took them something like ten years to decide where to put it. The point is, that while we think it can be done, the uncertianty is so great that no commercial venture would approach it. In fact, it looks like no single government has the funds or will to do it alone either.
Battery technology is the same. There are commerial companies working on it, but most, if not all, get direct government subsidies. There is still no guarnteed way to get to a battery cost and density that would make all electric vehicles a true competitor. Sometimes these scientifc breakthroughs don't come along, or come along too late to "save" a particular industry.
The final piece of the puzzle is charging time. What happens when you are running low on charge. Even if there is a high voltage charging station nearby you are talking a couple of hours. If you are running low on gasoline, you pull into a gas station, of which there are many, and in a few minutes you are on your way with a "full charge". There has been talk of having battery swap stations for decades. I mean decades. Ever since the first electric vehicle mandates in California this has been a solution discussed by the industry. What that would require is a standardized battery pack. Perhaps you could have a small number. Just think of that in terms of the EV car industry today.
So, as I have been advocating on this site for a while, we need to look to solutions that improve our efficiency while keeping total cost of ownership at current levels or better.
Tesla Motors’ $35,000, 200-mile electric car may not revolutionize the auto industry by itself, but it could serve as a starting point for a long, steady climb to a day when half of the world’s vehicles will be plug-ins.
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