How Much And How Fast Will Electric-Car Battery Costs Fall?

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Thread: How Much And How Fast Will Electric-Car Battery Costs Fall?

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    How Much And How Fast Will Electric-Car Battery Costs Fall?

    How Much And How Fast Will Electric-Car Battery Costs Fall?
    Green Car Reports
    March 16, 2012
    by John Voelcker


    It's often said, "There's no Moore's Law for electric cars"--meaning that lithium-ion battery cells do not double in performance every 18 months, as processor speeds have done.

    Instead, the best proxy is to look to the consumer lithium-ion cell maket, now more than 20 years old.

    Averaged over that time, the rate of performance increase has averaged 6 to 8 percent a year.

    It hasn't been linear, with improvements in both cell chemistry and process technology leading to notable declines once volume production is achieved, followed by a cost plateau.

    But we've talked to half a dozen cell makers over the last 18 months, and all of them accepted a 6-to-8-percent annual performance improvement as appropriate for the large-scale automotive cells used by every plug-in carmaker except Tesla Motors.

    A 2010 National Academy of Sciences report estimated pack costs then at $625 to $850 per kilowatt-hour.

    So where does that take us? If we assume that the 2011 Chevrolet Volt's 16-kWh pack cost roughly $750 per kilowatt-hour (or about $12,000), then we can project the two rates of decline.

    At 6 percent a year, the same pack in 2020 would cost just $430/kWh, or $6,500 in total. At 8 percent, it would be even cheaper, at $354/kWh or $5,200 altogether.

    Full article at link.

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    Re: How Much And How Fast Will Electric-Car Battery Costs Fall?

    Change maybe coming as the article states but until the rest of world can figure out how to use something other than rare earth minerals in these batteries we might not see it. China has the world market cornered on Rare Earth and they have put a serious clamp on the market. The US has the ability to mine them but it will take several years to get production up and running. Africa has them but not exactly in the most stable countries there. I think political/financial and national security decisions will all play a role in determining the costs of the batteries, not just the market.

    So electric/hybrid cars are good but they will not be the only answer to alternative fuels. The energy companies would be best served developing a distribution network that provides all kinds of alternative fuel choices from Gasoline, Diesel, Electric recharging, CNG, Hydrogen, etc. I think the first one to do that, will be in the catbirds seat because our only way to having secure, reliable, and affordable energy supplies is by having a variety of choices. Each fuel choice has plusses and minuses but if you have multiple choices to choose from, you are not reliant on anyone in particular.

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    Re: How Much And How Fast Will Electric-Car Battery Costs Fall?

    Breakthroughs in the composition of batteries and super-capacitors have me very hopeful that smaller, cheaper, lighter, more powerful ones are close at hand.
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    Re: How Much And How Fast Will Electric-Car Battery Costs Fall?

    Li isn't considered a "rare earth" material and China isn't the main source of the element (Li comes from Chile, Bolivia, etc). China does control the rare earth elements used in permanent magnets, however (i.e. neodymium, dysprosium) Hopefully auto manufacturers will hedge by investing in induction motors which do not require permanent magnets...though induction motors have their own pros/cons.
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    Re: How Much And How Fast Will Electric-Car Battery Costs Fall?

    I had a customer yesterday pricing a replacement battery for a 2013 Malibu. That was gonna be the deciding factor on purchasing the vehicle or not. By the way, the battery was about $1100.00. Don't know if they bought or not.

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    Re: How Much And How Fast Will Electric-Car Battery Costs Fall?

    Quote Originally Posted by JeremyK View Post
    ....China does control the rare earth elements used in permanent magnets, however (i.e. neodymium, dysprosium).....
    China only "controls" rare earth elements in the sense that they produce and sell the majority of them on the market today. But it isn't because China has all, or even most, of the world's supply. They simply sell them cheaper, thus driving the higher cost suppliers out of business. But as China's own internal market needs and consumes more of them, and China simply raises prices to get more profit, the market price has been rising, driving others to reopen their mining and processing facilities, and opening new ones. Not to mention, many countries (including the US) can see the economic and national security implications of rare earth production, and are pushing to broaden their own supply base.

    And these "rare earths" aren't really rare in the sense that there isn't much of them. It's that they don't appear in nature in large concentrations anywhere (not even China). This means that you have to mine and process a lot of ore to produce a small amount of product. China just had an advantage that their labor costs are so much lower (and haven't cared much about protecting the environment, or worker safety) that they are able to undercut most other sources on price.
    Last edited by CaptainDan; 03-20-2012 at 10:14 AM.
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    Re: How Much And How Fast Will Electric-Car Battery Costs Fall?

    Well if the stimulus failures for battery makers continue, then only a few will control the market, so don't get your hopes up.

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    Re: How Much And How Fast Will Electric-Car Battery Costs Fall?

    I think the bigger China factor will be when they steal all of the manufacturing technology they will target the market, build overcapacity to flood the market and cause prices to drop. The higher cost US and European manufacturers will then go out of business. So when China targets the market we will have a huge drop in cost, but a large drop in quality as well.

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    Re: How Much And How Fast Will Electric-Car Battery Costs Fall?

    Quote Originally Posted by BlackGTP View Post
    I think the bigger China factor will be when they steal all of the manufacturing technology they will target the market, build overcapacity to flood the market and cause prices to drop. The higher cost US and European manufacturers will then go out of business. So when China targets the market we will have a huge drop in cost, but a large drop in quality as well.
    Nice theory, but in a practical sense they would be held back by patents (GM has patented Voltec and related in most major countries), regulations and tariffs if there is a sense they are dumping products.
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    Re: How Much And How Fast Will Electric-Car Battery Costs Fall?

    The fact remains that battery technology is extremely limited, without much promise of huge breakthroughs.

    If you want a breakthrough, we need to bypass batteries altogether and make the jump to hydrogen fuel cells. Apple is considering micro fuel cells to power MacBooks, iPhones, and iPads. The potential is there to go for weeks on a single charge.

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    Re: How Much And How Fast Will Electric-Car Battery Costs Fall?

    Quote Originally Posted by Caddyguy57 View Post
    I had a customer yesterday pricing a replacement battery for a 2013 Malibu. That was gonna be the deciding factor on purchasing the vehicle or not. By the way, the battery was about $1100.00. Don't know if they bought or not.
    Lol, smart guy!.. but that battery is used in an emissions control device and thus has a long warranty.. the eAssist option is under $800 in the Canadian Buick website, and that includes all the components. Perhaps GM should offer a lifetime battery warranty like Hyundai does to calm down the customers..

    Lithium ion batteries as used by eAssist, Hyundai, Volt, Leaf, Focus, iMiev and other are not toxic, they are made from plentiful cheap materials, do not use rare earth materials and are fully recyclable if worthwhile.

    The Nickel Metal Hydride battery (nimh) as used by Ford and Toyota in their powersplit hybrids do use lanthanum, a rare earth.. but those batteries are valuable to recycle so they will never be landfilled.

    Last I heard lithium battery manufacturers were quoting $450/kWh for delivery in 2012, so that graph at the top of the thread is off by a few years already and probably will be way off by next year.

    Laptop batteries made in China are selling for $100/kWh because those are made in the millions, probably not automotive quality but not too far from what Tesla uses in the Roadster to get 245 miles of range. Those chinese batteries use cobalt and that is very expensive stuff comare to the cheap materials used by Volt and Leaf

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    Re: How Much And How Fast Will Electric-Car Battery Costs Fall?

    Quote Originally Posted by bmwboy2007 View Post
    The fact remains that battery technology is extremely limited, without much promise of huge breakthroughs.

    If you want a breakthrough, we need to bypass batteries altogether and make the jump to hydrogen fuel cells. Apple is considering micro fuel cells to power MacBooks, iPhones, and iPads. The potential is there to go for weeks on a single charge.
    I hope your're being sarcastic because there are multiple battery technologies with twice the energy density being produced at half the cost of current batteries in testing as we speak. We could see these in mass production within the next few years.

    As for micro fuel cells. I'm not sure it's going to fly. But Reaserch in Motion was just recently awarded a lot of patents on micro fuel cells in mobile devices.
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    Re: How Much And How Fast Will Electric-Car Battery Costs Fall?

    Quote Originally Posted by bmwboy2007 View Post
    The fact remains that battery technology is extremely limited, without much promise of huge breakthroughs.
    Jeeez this is not so, almost weekly new discoveries and refinements are announced.. its hard to keep up with all the announcements. Granted that big manufacturers like GM have to be conservative and do a lot of test but they have the labs and engineers to do it. Probably by the time GM certifies a chemistry its obsolete.

    GM and Toyota, probably Nissan too have taken the route of designing their battery packs to last the economic life of a car.. 10-15 years and 150k miles.. and probably far more if you are gentle.

    Renault (Nissan really) has taken a different route with their battery lease program for the Zoe and eFluence (and the Kangoo van and their micro city car).. you buy the car and lease the battery for about $100 a month.. after 5 years the battery is paid for and Renault is making pure profit on whatever life they can get out of them.. after they drop to 80% capacity the batteries are taken out of service and sold to electric utility companies for backup use.
    Last edited by HermPerez; 03-20-2012 at 05:31 PM.

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    Re: How Much And How Fast Will Electric-Car Battery Costs Fall?

    Quote Originally Posted by MechEng View Post
    I hope your're being sarcastic because there are multiple battery technologies with twice the energy density being produced at half the cost of current batteries in testing as we speak. We could see these in mass production within the next few years.

    As for micro fuel cells. I'm not sure it's going to fly. But Reaserch in Motion was just recently awarded a lot of patents on micro fuel cells in mobile devices.
    I don't think he was being sarcastic. I think he was being realistic. I think getting a battery with the range of a small gas tank is a very long way in the future if it ever happens at all. I think the only way for battery powered cars to succeed would be for all electric cars to have an interchangable battery that could be switched for a fresh one when it runs down. The time to charge a battery will always be the limiting factor in it gaining mainstream acceptance.

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    Re: How Much And How Fast Will Electric-Car Battery Costs Fall?

    Quote Originally Posted by BlackGTP View Post
    I think the bigger China factor will be when they steal all of the manufacturing technology they will target the market, build overcapacity to flood the market and cause prices to drop.
    Dont underestimate chinese science.. just look at the names of the scientists announcing new battery breakthroughs weekly. Most of them are Chinese, but not necessarily working in China.

    Mass production is what will bring the costs down.. and for that to happen the science has to settle and everyone starts to build ONE basic chemistry.. it will be many years before the discovery pace slows down enough for that to happen like it has for laptop cells. Nissan has decided to force the issue by targeting 1 million electrics per year, with battery factories in Japan, Europe and Tennessee.. Carlos Goshn has said that once they pass 500k per year they can really reduce the prices.. enough to get rid of the $7500 tax credit. They are probably close to that magic $380/kWh. Note that each Leaf uses 192 cells so that means annual production of 192 million cells.. each cell is about the size of a notebook page.

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