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?
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.
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?
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- It is true that replacing the storage system in a car would mean "replacing the pack not the cells" but that (of course) includes the cells. The rest of the pack is quite valuable. We have to believe that the rest of the pack would be recovered/recycled by replacing the cells and returning the pack to the replacement market. This is no different than what currently exists for many repairable automotive parts (e.g. starters, generators, air conditioning compressors). In truth, this is only a mechanism to have the repair moved from the individual shop to a centralized repair facility that has specialized tooling and tha can take advantage of the economies of scale. So once a volume market is established the cost for replacing a pack should be (cost of a rebatteried pack) - (value of a dead pack) + swapout labor. The first two factors should lie somewhere between the cell cost and the pack cost unless the recycle value of the cells is very high.
Congratulations Charles! Getting David Swan's input and observations presented what some of us see as a 'real world balance' to the pontifications of inward looking industry experts.
As I sit in front of my computer late at night and type my anonymous thoughts under the guise of a pseudonym, I concur with David Swan's comments. Engineers [and others] are notorious for taking the price of a BOM, or in the battery pack cell case - a subset of the BOM, and declaring that is what the subassembly should cost without any testing, qualifying, handling, labor, support/warranty, or manufacturing cost consideration. I do not see any significant problem with cell prices vs. pack prices.
We live in an age where a large percentage of folks know just enough to be dangerous in their quest for data and projections. Many of us have become spoiled during the last 20 years of technology advances. Although a great many new products have been 'hatched' during that time, we have been able to 'hang our hat' on some future projections [both technology-wise and cost-wise] for the new products by using a certain amount of historical extrapolation. If we go back to the time frame of the Intel 8008 [which ironically was designed under a contract to be the heart of a single board desktop computer], folks did not have the ability to project future microprocessor or memory costs [or future technical capabilities]. IMO, automotive electric power technology [batteries today] is at an equivalent stage of maturity in the vicinity of the 8080/8085/80186. We will need battery power/size/cost advances and packaging/assembly/testing advances to reach a 'generally acceptable price point' - the problem is that some of these require actual R&D.
<warning-rerun>One issue that many folks cannot get their head around is the s-l-o-w EV ramp. If folks are not demanding EVs [you will not see them lined up all night, around the block, and anxiously awaiting the new model EVs]. The slow demand ramp will result in a slow 'price improvement ramp'... <end warning>
The questions that have been going though my mind from the beginning of the EV push were 1. How long will these battery chemistries continue to hold an acceptible charge level in real-world applications (all battery chemistries are affected by charge/discharge patterns)? and 2. What will the end user replacement cost be when they need to be replaced - including installation?
We don't complain too much when our notebook computer battery packs only give us 1 hour per charge after a year or two of use, but when our EV will only travel 10 miles on a charge after a few years and we have to spend $2K or $3K to replace them - every few years - that's going to hurt, and it would quickly sour me on owning an EV...
Hi. So everyone here is convinced that OEMs cannot get volume discounts, eh? The $1/Ah figure is for quantity 1 and at full retail price. Don't you think OEMs can get better pricing for, say, 500K sets of 24kW packs? Please. For a fraction of the cost of a purchase like that they can buy the *entire* battery factory and then set their own cell price.
Further, how much does it cost to put a temperature and voltage sensor on each cell? Battery pack enclosures? Shouldn't most of that already be part of the vehicle's chassis? LiFePO4 cells do not need specialized cooling up to 70C. If anything, a cheap heat pad under the pack can keep them warm in temperatures below -20C. That OEMs have chosen a chemistry that needs cooling is of their own doing, they have a better option.
In my opinion, the added costs of bringing cells to OEM production requirements can be easily offset by their higher purchasing volumes. Watch how in a couple of years, when the Gov incentives run out, they suddenly figure this out and then say batteries are not that expensive. Right.
@ JRoque: It's not necessarily that the cells need any special cooling requirements, it's primarily a safety system with a reliability aspect too. It ensures that if a damaged cell overheats for any reason, it doesn't 'cook off' the nearby cells and trigger a chain reaction. It also serves to maximize cell life by assuring cell string charge balancing: If all of the cells are within 2C of each other they will optimally share charge/discharge loads.
LiIon/LiPo Battery packs, at any scale, require extensive redundant safety systems: Over voltage, under voltage, over current, under temp, over temp, fault tolerance to cell failure, drop, crush, puncture, short circuit, etc. All of these systems must be qualified prior to commercial use, which is a significant investment. Take a look at UL2048 to get a sense for how a non-automotive battery has to perform and how many samples are required for qualification. An application I'm working on will require nearly 100 samples and 6-8 months to demonstrate compliance with that standard alone. Designing and qualifying batteries is expensive and must be accounted for in the delivered cost.
If batteries are really "only" $250/kwh, I'd expect a small but growing market for conversion jobs making the more popular non-plug-in hybrids capable of much more electric only operation. Also many people have electric dryer circuits or gas range circuits that are in use very seldom and could be used for high amperage charging of vehicles without that extensive of remodelling. Those are dedicated circuits today but most household circuits have more outlets on them than you can utilize simultaneously and people cope with that. I used to hear more about the potential for zinc-air batteries but not so much anymore. There is lots of research ongoing and we may be surprised by what wins in the end, there will be lots of dead-ends (think Solyndra and Evergreen Solar that went down what looked like exciting new routes but ended up with bankruptcy) and maybe some new billionaires (research done by scientists at major companies usually don't make scientists rich, but sometimes university research becomes idependent and does), also like with Bill Gates, sometimes its the person with the drive and cutthroat business tactics that can take someone else's interesting idea (Xerox windows GUI) and mold it into an empire (MS Windows)
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?
You are not wrong, but it's a Catch-22. Increased demand will reduce costs, but to increase demand costs must be lower. "That's some catch, that Catch-22" to quote Yossarian from the movie, and you can't say it any plainer than that.
All that you mentioned (motor refinements, manufacturing & chemistry improvements) are all evolutionary steps to existing technology. None of them will help break the Catch-22.
To make EVs become solidly popular, a power source with the energy density of gasoline is necessary. Batteries do not have that.
Maybe a fresh look at the problem is necessary. What if the electrical power were available in the road-bed (think slot cars on twin tracks at Christmas time). Then you don't need to carry a large battery around; a small one would be enough to permit crossing from charge track to charge track. There's no need to plug in to recharge, because the cars are always "plugged in". The concept bypasses the energy density problem entirely.
You're definitely correct that economies of scale will drive costs down. So -- brace yourself -- we have to go back to the experts for projections on this. When we talked to Michael Holman, research director at Lux Research two weeks ago, he said: "Through 2020, we see the cost falling to around $400 or $500 per kilowatt-hour. It will bottom out no lower than $400." As is always the case, however, there is no complete argreement on this. In 2009, the National Academy of Engineering projected that lithium-ion battery prices would hit bottom at $500/kWh in 2030. The question is: If your 40-kWh electric car battery costs $20,000, or even $16,000, is that low enough?
First thing I learned is car salemen lie and battery saleman are even worse. So I go to basic econo 101 and physics.
Since the batteries Tesla, others use cost $250kwhr in 1000 lots, that sets lithium battery material costs at under $175kw and probably under $125/kwhr. There is nothing that expensive in good lithiums but about 18 lbs of alum, copper, iron, plastic, electrolyte and a lb of lithium carbonate, none of which are more than $6/lb.
Packaging, temp control and BMS is about $100/kwhr but that is likely to drop as electronics gets better and production experience increases.
Since batteries really are commoditities because so many battery companies and so few orders, battery companies will be lucky to get cost +10%.
While car companies spend way too much calculating and just need to get some time in EV's, it's not the battery's fault nor should it be put in the EV battery's cost unless over several yrs like other car's tooling is.
So this leads me to read into the lines that lithium batteries now cost OEM's about $400/kwhr in finished pack form and probably under $200/kwhr in 5 yrs if not earlier.
Interesting both the battery cost and last week's too many battery manufacturers for a limited market were just my points here a couple articles ago. Thanks for bringing them to a brighter light.
Maybe fuel cells can substitute for batteries. They are a little more efficient I think than an IC engine. Better in terms of some but not all emissions. Same problems though in terms of cost. That would at least allow usage of the new wheel motors and whatever else came along.
As for electrified roadbed, that would take a a lot of infrastructure changes and limit the utility. I think in similar terms whenever I look at a large NASA rocket. All that fuel and mass just to get a pretty small fraction of the total vehicle weight up to orbital speed, 17,500 mph. An electrified horizontal launcher would not have to carry the fuel in along with the payload.
The simple matter is, we need better batteries that cost less. I just don't see a silver bullet here.
... or two! Most estimates of total battery SUBSYSTEM costs (what is really important) have to consider other items and factors. One large cost is the cost of the external charging station. For the typical "slow" charger (overnight recharge for 100% capacity) this would be a 2KW+ unit, with a very sophisticated charge management system; it requires at least a dedicated GP branch circuit (20A @117V US, 10A@220V EU). Any quicker charge requires a special wiring arrangement (as much as a 50A one for 2-3 hour recharge). Oh, and unless one is dreaming or using mind-altering substances, the vehicle will be a fossil-fuel hybrid (or share a garage with a fossil-fuel vehicle in most cases), so the unit has to be at least spark-free (or fully explosive atmosphere compliant, which believe me ain't cheap!). factoring the installation costs, etc. this alone could easily average $2,500 or more. Of course, the total cycle efficiency (KWH drawn from the grid divided into the usable KWH output of the battery pack) of no better than 85-90% has to be considered in the "mileage" obtained. I'm afraid far too many engineers these days weren't required to take a full semester of thermodynamics in school, so they don't really appreciate that EVERY step of energy conversion and control is LOSSY. These are also typically the proponents of the "hydrogen economy," never recognizing that hydrogen is an energy DISTRIBUTION mechanism, NOT a FUEL.
Everything you say here makes sense, except for the spark-free or explosive atmosphere compliant part. I do not believe that a garage with a gasoline powered vehicle in it qualifies as an explosive atmosphere. If that were the case, then things like washing machines, driers, and water heaters would need to be spark-free or explosive atmosphere compliant, as these things commonly share garage space with gasoline fueled cars. I'm pretty sure sparks and even open flames are not a hazard in most garages. Unless you keep open buckets of gasoline in your garage, of course.
As a Physicist / Engineer who specializes in alternative energy sources/resources...(not wind, solar, hydro,etc.) I am sorry to say this but, "HELLO....KNOCK-KNOCK is anyone up there?"
Is there no common sense anymore? Although the article is based on a financial premise, why is it that noone is really laying down the non-financial numbers that are the basis of the topic.
Gasoline offers approx 124,200 BTU per gallon; 124,200 BTU = approx. 36.4 KWh of energy; and 1 KWh of Grid averages 12 cents per KWh.
So do some math based on energy first and then apply the real cost to EV Batteries, or even fuel-cells to really get to the point. When America went through this same issue back in the 1980's this was studied to the "hilt" then..and it was calculated the Batteries that could supply around 700 KW/h were what was needed for electric cars to be viable (hey, did you notice the relationship between the approx. 700 and 36.4?). Has everyone forgotten everything already??? The bottom-line here is there are only two battery chemistries that can do the job or actually "OVER-DO" the job...and we are simply not using them eventhough there material costs at retail are between 1/10 and 1/4 the price of Lithium.... The reason being we are still in a "GREED" based society of putting "Band-aids" instead of "fixes", so we try to solve the problems with the least possible upfront expense, even when a little more could "fix" everything. Sad, but oh, so true....
Now that we are al being a bit pompous... As a power systems engineer ffo 29 years, and having worked in motive power and industrial battery chargers I can tell you that in 1997 the coal BTU to torque efficiency bback then was rated at about 6%... Since then if you consider breakthru switched mode power systems you might edge that number up to 10%, which is still behind the best gasoline to torque x time efficiencies of up to 23%.
If 36.4 Kwh of power gives you about 8 Kwh you can back-up and figure that it takes about 80 Kwh equivalent power from the grid to give you equivalent to a gallon of gas... However, of that power the utilities eat the 50% line loss, causing the consumer to pay for 40 Kwh x 0.12, or about a $4.80 per gallon equivalent BEFORE you even get to amortizing the cost of battery and technology. Ergo the public hesitation to by E-cars or" Coal powered" cars as I call them.
Now if the tree-huggers are taking tabs on environmental impact in an honest manner, the 50% line losses contribute to so-called "man-made global warming et cetera". Neither the consumer nor mamma nature may be happier with Electric cars in the end... And I am not even covering the continous environmental impact of battery construction and maintenance. Tell me where I am wrong.
@ Powa-Master: Based on my readings the conversion efficiency of coal fired power plants is typically closer to 33%. Also, combined cycle plants are breaking records with efficiencies reaching 50%. How do you arrive at 8-10%?
Additionally, your arguments are based on the current state of power generation. One point made by pluggable hybrid and electric car advocates make is; as the grid generation system gets cleaner and more efficient, the cars do the same, continuously over the life of the car. Internal combustion cars are arguably at their cleanest and most efficient when they finish their break-in, and get 'dirtier' and less efficient from that point on. These factors should also be figured all of these arguments.
Battery Cost ? Does it really matter in AUtomotive applications ?
When did any NEW car buyer ever worried about cost of tires, cost of water pump, cost of a radiator, or cost of new catalytic converter ? If they did they probably would be shocked to know, but why is no one concerned ?
Because that cost only matters when the vehicle system in question fails and needs to be replaced, then it matters either to the OEM if under Warranty or to the second or third vehicle owner when it is no longer under warranty.
If tose costs would trully matter even to te USED car buyer, then no one in their right mind would ever buy a used BMW or a TESLA for that matter!
When EV batteries are warranted to the NEW vehicle buyer for 8 to 10 years and 80,000 to 150,000 miles = the design life of the vehicle, then only cost of the vehicle divided by the Warranty miles is the measure that one can cost compare cars = COST per MILE driven.
IF that is done then EV are "almost" competitive with ICE cars, but if you suddenly add the cost of a replacement battery pack, then the cost per mile is 2 to 3 times more than ICE car.
In fact you have to think of a battery (or replacement of it) as a part of "FUEL COSTS" and in case of ICE car you also have to add the cost of fuel to get meaningful cost comparison between EV, Hybrid and ICE = the TOTAL COST PER MILE (while you own the vehicle) is the only realistic economic measure.
But with few exceptions, in the past EV have next to no resale value when 5 to 7 years old, ICE conventional car will stil get you $3,000 or more if in good condition - so in the long run EV is not as good investment.
And WHAT IF the "unique" EV battery 5 years later is No longer available at ANY COST ?
There are actually three chemistries but for my immediate answer 1)Magnesium and 2) aluminum. In each case the cost is so much less than lithium battery technology. They are heavier, but the dramatic cost difference makes up for the fact. The third chemistry I appologise for not covering but it I can say it actually forms a Hybrid between and Battery and a fuel cell, which was demonstrated to scientists from multiple Universities and finally studied at a major Univ. and then reviewed by a National Lab Director.... in the mid. 90's in New York. The energy density exceeded 2100 KWh... and would cost pennies to the dollar of lithium. The developer designed it for the automotive industry at the time, but certain agencies wanted it for military use, and it was pulled out of circulation by it's developer.
But for EV's and PV solar, a secondary cell is needed. Of course for EV's, there is the added dimension of weight and crash safety.
The aluminum oxide battery is a primary battery and uses aluminum for fuel. On the upside, we could mount it to the top of a DeLorean, call it Mr Fusion and power it with empty beer cans. :)
The magnesium-copper chloride battery is a reserve batter. Just add water and its torpedos away!
Look at it from the utility-scale solar/wind side - how do you store Gw-hrs or Tw-hrs of electricity for later use? Solve that problem and they'll find a way to use it in cars. If utility-generated electricity is 12 cents per kw-hr and there is 50% line loss in distribution, then the generating cost must be less than 6 cents per kw-hr. So... how do you store electricity (or energy) for less than 6 cents per kw-hr?
Well I do have an eLectric DeLorean. Right now it is using old fashion lead acid batteries because for $2000 I can accelerate really fast and maintain highway speeds. The problem is I only get 40 miles on a charge. I'd love to be able to afford a more exotic battery chemistry, but to have a battery pack that can put out over 1000 amps and be at least 100 ah we're talking close to $20,000. Hopely the prices will continue to drop... electricdelorean.com
Both of the battery types mentioned are indeed primary cells, however if you do a bit of web searching you will find that there are also working Al and Mg batteries that are rechargeable that function on a different premise.
As I started commenting on the third type, the Al and Mg follow along the same premise the third type took, a hybrid between a battery and a fuel cell.... with a surprisingly available "fuel"
As for the commentary concerning efficiencies by someone else, I agree there are inefficiencies but not 50% line losses as someone stated.
And in response to the 6 cent level... Right off the answer is hydro..... unless ofcourse the owner of the facility is getting a 6 or 7 figure paycheck (Which they are) But think about this...I'm in NY and presently pay around 6.8 cents, not counting the meter/delivery charge, while my house in TN is under 6 cents.
Having worked on high performance hybrid drive systems for the last 10 years or so, it is clear that the battery is the biggest problem. The batteries we use are the large, cylindrical, format types and are indeed, pricey (we would change out bad cells in lieu of replacing the whole pack). For the consumer market, basic transporation vehicle, perhaps we've finally met the limit of cheap, low-hanging fruit in the energy market. Maybe future drivers will just have to pay more for the privilege of driving an automobile?
I have been looking at a similar problem with solar power systems for the home. The installed cost for the PV panels, chargers and inverter system can be over $2,500 per kw-hr of capacity. Assuming 90% efficiency for the PV panel, charger, battery and inverter, and if you get 15 years of service, your generation cost might be as low as $0.08 per kw-hr. Maybe.
To store each kw-hr of electricity, you need 1.25x capacity (for 80% DOD batteries) to 2x capacity (for 50% DOD batteries). A good flooded lead-acid battery might cost $200-$250 per kw-hr capacity and give you 1500 cycles at 50% DOD. So you spend $250 for 0.5 kw-hr x 1500 times, or $0.33 per kw-hr.
So I'm at $0.41 per kw-hr (minimum) vs $0.12 per kw-hr utilities. I really WANT to go solar, but right now the costs are quite high. Same with the current offerings in electric vehicles. Why pay the extra upfront cost and still be faced with a $2500 battery cost in 5 years?
Liquids fuels are still the densest form of energy storage and easiest to handle and transport. Until the total life-cycle cost of battery storage gets down around $0.05 per kw-hr (and doesn't depend on exotic materials from a foreigh competitor), we need to focus on ways of turning sunlight (or wind) into liquids fuels.
@Reader22: "So I'm at $0.41 per kw-hr (minimum) vs $0.12 per kw-hr utilities. I really WANT to go solar"
Right, but going solar is available in many flavours. You could start out as a grid tie only system, using the utilies as storage (sort of). Starting there, you can add some battery backup capabilty and size it to your choice of demand - like minimum emergency, full use emergency, and full off-the-grid systems. It depends on your circumstances. If your utility company has peak/off-peak metering, dumping back to the grid can be pretty attractive and it helps out during those summer time power crunches.
About 10 years ago I bought a homemade EV which was a compact Ford pickup using 24 or so 12v auto batteries (filled the bed). I had to replace them and it seems to me the cost was around $700 at Costco. Of course the range and speed were nothing like the current commercial cars but for a 5 mile city commute it was fine.
If I read this article & the comments right, a kWhr of power costs 12 cents from the power company and the battery costs $800 to store that much power. WOW.
In Vancouver they have these trolley buses that use overhead wires so they don't have to store any power on board.
Here's an idea, how about if we power all the roads with some form of wireless power delivery and skip the batteries altogether?
I also like the idea of a "mechanical battery" that can store mechanical energy as rotational inertia of a flywheel. I once heard a story of a car that had 20hp engine and got about 80 mpg, yet could do 0-60mph in 5 seconds or some ridiculous fast time. The reason is, while everyone is stopped at the red light the little motor is spinning up the flywheel, and when it turned green the driver could dump all that energy into the drivetrain. Flywheel is much dumber and cheaper than a battery.
The large automotive companies talk about the cost of their customized integrated battery packs. The "skeptics" talk about the price of individual commercially available cells.
It would be very interesting to look at the cost of the Tesla battery pack, because they purchase these commercially available cells and incorporate them into their custom designed battery pack. I know they have done a lot of engineering "around" the cells, but none on the cells themselves. If you can get some good information on the Tesla battery pack, it would help clarify where the costs lie.
"And WHAT IF the "unique" EV battery 5 years later is No longer available at ANY COST?" That'll be One of those "green jobs" - repacking EV battery modules with more-or-less compatible cells, reflashing the module memory and selling them to desperate EV owners.
Interesting about some of the battery chemistries that have been mentioned, is that I think most of them are prinary-cell types that are not rechargeable. But maybe they could be. The problem with EV batterys is that they will not be interchangable and they will not be second sourced, which means that the sellers can charge what they want. That is the huge advantage of not hyaving any competition. Just like cell phone batteries, with a special chip to prevent the use of "counterfit" batteries. If we look at the price of a cell phone battery and scale it up by the AH ratio, it does seem to get kind of expensive, doesn't it? My guess is that the car companies are as profit motivated as the cell phone companies, and far more likely to have folks buy a replacement battery than a new phone, because of the greater expense.
So no matter what the actual selling price, EV battery packs will indeed be quite expensive.
Tesla Motorsí $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 worldís vehicles will be plug-ins.
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