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.
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