Study Says EV Batteries Will Remain Ultra-Expensive for Foreseeable Future



We’d like to think that lithium-ion battery costs will drop enough in the coming years to make electric vehicles accessible to the masses, but that might not be the case according to a study from the Boston Consulting Group (BCG). The Batteries for Electric Cars: Challenges, Opportunities, and the Outlook to 2020 report predicts that battery costs won’t be cheap enough by 2020 to support the widespread adoption of EVs. That’s unsettling news for the myriad car companies investing their futures in EV technology.

There’s a big “if” to the study, however. If a major breakthrough in battery chemistry increases the amount of energy a battery could store without raising the price, carmakers can rest easy. And even if that doesn’t happen, hybrid and electric car sales are expected to grow. BCG predicts that 26% of all new cars sold in 2020 in Japan, China, Western Europe, and the U.S. will be hybrid or all-electric. Out of those 14 million new EVs, 11 million will be hybrids, 1.5 million will be all-electric, and 1.5 million will be range extenders.

Why so few all-electric cars? According to the study, “In view of the need for a
pervasive infrastructure for charging or swapping batteries, the
adoption of fully electric vehicles in 2020 may be limited to specific
applications, such as commercial fleets, commuter cars, and cars that
are confined to a prescribed range of use.” In other words, our EV charging infrastructure won’t be extensive enough to support widespread use.

Battery prices may remain high for the foreseeable future, but automakers are still trying to roll out reasonably priced EVs. Look out for the Nissan Leaf, an EV priced in the $25,000-$35,000 range, sometime in the next year.

[Via Green Car Congress]

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Ariel Schwartz is a Senior Editor at Co.Exist. She has contributed to SF Weekly, Popular Science, Inhabitat, Greenbiz, NBC Bay Area, GOOD Magazine and more