What's stopping electric cars from dominating vehicle sales? Price. More specifically, the high price of EV batteries, which jack up overall vehicle costs considerably. So it comes as no surprise to learn that UC Berkeley researchers have found that electric vehicles could go mainstream more quickly if battery price is taken out of the equation.
According to the "Electric Cars in the United States: A New Model with Forecasts to 2030" study, electric cars could constitute 64% of light vehicle sales by 2030 if battery swapping and pay-per-service mile models are adopted. This might sound familiar—Silicon Valley startup Better Place is working on a highly publicized EV infrastructure where customers buy an EV sans batteries and pay to use Better Place-owned batteries and battery switching stations.
Better Place isn't the only company with designs on the swappable battery market. Norwegian car company Think might lease batteries in its upcoming EVs, and GM has flirted with the idea of leasing Chevy Volt batteries.
All of these models will benefit consumers. University of Berkeley researchers predict that switchable battery vehicles will be $7,500 less expensive than similar gasoline-powered cars by 2012, and the cost of EV ownership will be 10 to 13 cents cheaper per mile than gasoline cars (depending on oil prices). So stand by—that Chevron station on the corner might be a Better Place station soon.