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24.08.2014
By John Polkinghorne, on August 7th, 2014It’s been a while since the last post in this series on electric vehicles (here are parts one, two and three), but this post is number four.
This post is about the cost of electric vehicles – the main reason they’ve been so slow to take off. As discussed in part two, electric motors use a lot less energy than a traditional car engine.
This gives a cost of $5 per 100 km – certainly much cheaper than a typical petrol car, which uses 10 litres of petrol to travel 100 km, costing around $22.00 at current petrol prices. However, a big chunk of the petrol price is tax, comprising a contribution to the National Land Transport Fund, and a bit to ACC as well.
As I’ve written previously, the long-term solution may be to make Road User Charges universal, although there are issues with this as well. Diesel-electric hybrids, on the other hand, have to pay Road User Charges, so they end up paying the full whammy of costs (once the RUC-petrol tax discrepancy gets resolved in the next few years).
The graph below compares the lifetime running costs of several kinds of car, under several taxation scenarios.
Setting aside environmental concerns, “range anxiety”, and all the rest, consumers will be prepared to pay the higher capital cost of electric cars, if they’re going to save enough money on their running costs. Overall, if you compare these running cost savings to the extra capital cost, it looks like the financial argument for BEVs and PHEVs isn’t quite there yet. There are ways of reducing this issue: for example, customers could lease electric vehicles, or buy the vehicles but only lease the batteries. At current price levels, BEVs have running costs that are only marginally lower than petrol-electric PHEVs, because these hybrids are only taxed on their petrol consumption.
Since the costs associated with the road network are primarily dependent on the weight and number of vehicles using the road – and not on the litres of fuel used – the Road User Charges scheme arguably provides a more equitable way of charging for road use.
Wouldn’t the annual opex for cars increase as they age due to the need for ongoing repairs etc, rather than decrease as the graph suggests?
There’s an argument that EVs might depreciate slower than conventional cars, excluding the battery (which you replace anyway), since there are fewer other parts of the car that are getting run down. You do realize that even for a mildly color blind person your graphs look all the same color?
As if it needs replacing even once in its lifetime, it totally changes to economics of BEVs versus the others (making it even more uneconomic). Right now BEVs don’t stack up financially because they are too simply expensive due to the costs of the batteries and thta assumes that the battery never needs replacing. Of course, if for instance we had wireless energy transmission in the roadway so that for example BEVs could have small batteries that are semi-continuously charged from from the grid as they drive on the roads, that would change the economics in their favour a lot. Then of course, there are also similar technology for trams and trains (A Battery EMU for instance), which means the EMU can use the normal overhead power where its available and its local supply where its not.
Presumably this will all be made irrelevant by the introduction of driverless cars, which will ultimately remove the whole concept of owning a car, and therefore change the economic model.
So if the cost of batteries decreases enough and the tax payer gives a generous donation these cars still dont make sense.
Let me fix that for you; as the cost of batteries goes down, which they will as the supply chain ramps up, and the cost of petrol goes up, which it will, as supply and demand are clearly on a knife edge despite the Shale boomlet, then these things will become more viable. There will only be real choice when it becomes viable to be able to choose not to have to drive, at least not all the time and for all journeys. Interestingly China is reducing pollution and reliance on fossil fuels by mandating that 30% of all State Vehicles be alternative fuels by 2016. I’d love to hear what the actual lifetime of batteries has been in NZ for hybrids like Toyota Prius and Honda Insight.
Those have been around long enough to see whether the initial 8 year estimates (that I had heard at their introduction) was pessimistic or optimistic. I think those batteries have generally performed OK, and just as importantly they’ve been fairly cheap to replace when it does come time for that.
The Samsung Galaxy S6 has an integrated battery, but it can be replaced (not without some difficulty, however).
If at some point within that one-year period the battery’s capacity dips below 80-percent of its starting level, Samsung will replace it for free. The Galaxy S6 and S6 edge are Samsung's newest offerings, and as pointed out in the iFixit teardown, the battery placements in the two handsets are slightly different, with the edge proving a bit more of a hassle to remove.
To take one more example of non-price characteristics from among many, there is surely room for improvement in the aesthetics of rooftop solar panels, at least in some contexts, and a number of innovators are working on this. Scott Edward Anderson is a consultant, blogger, and media commentator who blogs at The Green Skeptic. Christine Hertzog is a consultant, author, and a professional explainer focused on Smart Grid. Gary Hunt Gary is an Executive-in-Residence at Deloitte Investments with extensive experience in the energy & utility industries. Jesse Jenkins is a graduate student and researcher at MIT with expertise in energy technology, policy, and innovation. Geoffrey Styles is Managing Director of GSW Strategy Group, LLC and an award-winning blogger.
The cost of batteries is one of the major hurdles standing in the way of widespread use of electric cars and household solar batteries. But research published recently in Nature Climate Change Letters shows battery pack costs may in some cases be as low as US$300 per kilowatt-hour today, and could reach US$200 by 2020.
Falling prices will pave the way for what could be a rapid transition to a cleaner energy system. Last year, my colleagues and I analysed the cost-benefits of household battery storage alongside rooftop solar systems. Our analysis of ten studies published by research institutes and consultancies suggested a dramatic fall in battery cost over the next two decades, making solar power and electric vehicles more affordable.
The new research by two Swedish researchers published in Nature Climate Change Letters this month used a similar approach but found an even sharper plunge.
The core conclusion of the new paper is that the cost of full automotive Lithium ion battery packs has already reduced to around US$410 per kWh industry-wide. The analysis also estimated that the industry as a whole is currently seeing annual battery cost reductions of 14 per cent, while for leading players with already lower costs this is closer to 8 per cent. Assuming continued electric vehicle sales growth, the authors suggest costs as low as US$200 per kWh are possible without further improvements in the cell chemistry. As battery costs decrease, technologies such as electric vehicles and household energy storage are likely to undergo a transition, from niche products in the hands of early adopters to standard acquisitions by pragmatic consumers. Increased opportunities naturally attract commercial competition, which has the potential to further accelerate the technological improvements.
The findings published this month suggest that the transition from niche to mainstream product may well occur far sooner than people believe. Valentin Muenzel is PhD Candidate in electric vehicles and the electricity grid at University of Melbourne. The best Eco-Business stories, jobs and events delivered to your inbox – daily or weekly. Two new research papers released in recent weeks shed light on the real potential of electric vehicles to upend traditional energy systems as we currently know them. The first report, from Edison Electric Institute, lays out an unambiguous business case for why the power sector needs vehicle electrification to take off and should take various aggressive measures to help expedite their widespread adoption. EEI also provides an overview of vehicle battery cost projections, with the most optimistic outcomes placing battery cost per kilowatt-hour at around $200-300 in 2020. In EEI’s view, plug-in vehicles make good business sense for utility fleets in the near term, with short payback periods and lifetime operational cost savings. But there’s another way that electrification could play out—one that ultimately might be a bigger win for consumers, but would worsen the outlook for the utility industry. Investment bank UBS sees a scenario unfolding where consumers can utilize solar, batteries, and electric vehicles to effectively “opt out” of the current grid, and experience tremendous energy savings.
According to their model, homeowners who make an initial investment in solar panels, a stationary battery, and an electric vehicle will break even within six to eight years, followed by approximately 12 years of “free” electricity and transportation fuel. Importantly, the UBS report focuses mostly on European markets, where liquid fuel costs are significantly higher due to national gasoline and diesel taxes.


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Summary: The cost of battery packs for electric vehicles has fallen more rapidly than projected, with market leading firms in 2014 producing batteries at ~$300 per kilowatt-hour of storage capacity, on par with market projections for 2020. Electric vehicle (EV) battery costs have fallen more rapidly than many projections, according to a new survey of battery costs published in Nature Climate Change. The cost of batteries produced by market leading firms, such as Renault-Nissan and Tesla Motors, however, have fallen further, to an average of $300 per kWh, according to the study. In the near-term, the researchers believe economies of scale, improvements in cell manufacturing and learning-by-doing in pack integration, rather than advancements in cell chemistry or other R&D breakthroughs, will help manufacturers continue to produce cheaper batteries. EV battery sales volumes are current doubling annually and car manufacturers are partnering with battery makers to invest in larger production facilities and cut costs. The study’s authors conclude that economies of scale are likely to drive down battery costs to $200 per kWh in the near future. Bjorn Nykvist is a Research Fellow and Mans Nilsson is Deputy Director and Research Director at the Stockholm Environment Institute. Note: This is article is part of an ongoing series of concise summaries of interesting and important conclusions from new research and peer-reviewed journal articles.
Will economies of scale and learning by doing be enough to make batteries cost competitive? What impact does growing demand for stationary batteries for grid connected uses have on costs and prices in the electric vehicle battery sector?
Are Carbon Capture and Storage and Biomass Indispensable in the Fight Against Climate Change? Jesse JenkinsJesse is a researcher, consultant, and writer with ten years of experience in the energy sector and expertise in electric power systems, electricity regulation, energy and climate change policy, and innovation policy. Suppose, instead, that in a typical month you can expect enough solar energy collected to cover your monthly demand, but there might be a week of cloudy skies. A major reason for the rapid jump in EV sales is the rapid drop in the cost of their key component -– batteries. In a major 2013 analysis, “Global EV Outlook: Understanding the Electric Vehicle Landscape to 2020,” the International Energy Agency estimated that electric vehicles would achieve cost parity with internal combustion engine vehicles when battery costs hit $300 per kWh of storage capacity. So the best manufacturers have already reached the battery price needed for cost parity with conventional cars.
It may well be that $150 per kWh can be hit around 2020 without a major battery breakthrough but simply with continuing improvements in manufacturing, economies of scale, and general learning by industry. Electrical energy from non-rechargeable (primary) batteries is expensive in relative terms and its use is limited to low power applications such as watches, flashlights and portable entertainment devices. In this paper we calculate the cost to produce 1000 watts of power for one hour (1kWh) from different energy storage medias.
Secondary batteries provide far more economical energy than primaries, as Figure 2 reveals. Newer chemistries provide higher energy densities than conventional batteries per size and weight but the cost per kWh is higher. The low costs of nickel-cadmium can only be achieved by applying a full discharge once every 1-2 month as part of a maintenance program to prevent memory. Figure 3 compares the energy cost to generate 1kW of energy from the primary AA alkaline cells, a nickel-cadmium pack, a combustion engine used in a midsize car, fuel cells and the electrical grid.
The fuel cell offers the most effective means of generating electricity but is expensive in terms of cost per kWh. By submitting this form, you are providing your express consent to receive electronic communications from Battery University. Today, I’m looking at the costs of these cars – both their running costs, and their capital costs.
These cars are much more expensive than conventional cars, unless there are hefty subsidies involved. The latest generation of vehicles use lithium-ion batteries, which are much better at storing energy than the traditional lead-acid batteries you’ll find in your Corolla. Let’s say that the car manufacturers are happy with a battery selling price of USD $500 per kWh, around $570 in NZ dollars.
According to the MBIE, that’s around 77 cents per litre once GST is added on, or $7.70 per 100 km. That’s a real disincentive from buying diesel-electric PHEVs, so we’d expect them to be much less popular here.
In the graph here, for a car travelling 12,000 km a year for 25 years (perhaps a bit on the high side), and using an 8% discount rate, you’ll pay nearly $30,000 in running costs for a petrol car, compared with $7,000 for a BEV which is exempt from Road User Charges forever. This kind of scheme could allow the buyer to avoid the high up-front cost, which could be recouped over time through the running cost savings.
Furthermore, even though diesel-electric PHEVs will be more efficient than petrol-electric PHEVs, they are likely to have higher running costs. Pukekohe services – avoiding the need for electrification of that line anytime soon). Maybe Ford are on to something bringing back the XR8 next year, a 5.0 litre supercharged V8. The research I’ve done into EVs is what has led me to conclude that we (and countries around the world) need to put a heck of a lot more effort into public and active transport to reduce transport GHG emissions. Make things in large enough quantities and the prices come down as well – large lithium ion batteries are no exception. While Hybrids exercise batteries differently to electric only vehicles, they must be an indicator. Some have questioned how much that replacement battery will cost, and now Samsung has confirmed the pricing: a replacement S6 battery will cost $45 USD, and the replacement of said battery can be done in a single business day, meaning users won't have to be separated from their smartphone for too long. The replacement battery will cost $45 USD, but there is a one-year warranty on the S6’s battery. The battery's capacity will have to be verified at a service center before the warranty replacement will take place, however.
Still, given how they're installed, users are best advised to have a professional do the replacement. By storing surplus energy, batteries allow households to reduce power bought from the electricity grid. This cost development is notably cheaper and faster decreasing than I and many others expected. The analysis therefore suggests that the cost of electric car batteries may be as low as $7,500 today and reducing to $5,000 by 2020.
Encountering difficulty in finding reliable sources of present and future lithium-ion battery costs, we published our own study on The Conversation.
They report that since 2011 the number of electric vehicles worldwide has doubled each year. Market-leading manufacturers such as Nissan and Tesla are already seeing prices around US$300 per kWh. It is therefore predicted that battery cost for all involved should converge to around US$230 per kWh in 2017-2018. This explains why, for example, Tesla Motors is making a US$5 billion dollar bet in the shape of a massive battery factory.
And given that the perceived unlikelihood of governmental clean technology commitments in Australia has apparently reached April-Fools’-joke-worthy levels, it seems about time. EEI states, “today’s electric utilities need a new source of load growth—one that fits within the political, economic and social environment. In their view, steep declines in cost of solar panels and large batteries are going to enable new applications, and leveraging the technologies against each other makes them viable without subsidies.
The report states, “One can leverage the EV purchase with an investment in a solar system and a stationary battery. In this case, the stationary and electric vehicle batteries can store electricity from a home’s solar panels, utilize that energy at night or during periods of low sunlight, and also meet the household’s transportation fuel demand. At the same time, many parts of Europe have much lower sun exposure than the United States.


Researchers from the Stockholm Environment Institute scoured peer-reviewed journals, consultancy reports, and news items to construct an original data set of EV battery pack cost estimates from 2007 to 2014. These estimates are on the order of two to four times lower than many recent peer-reviewed papers have suggested and already equal to the average cost projected for 2020 in a variety of papers. Renault-Nissan is working with LG to produce enough batteries for 1.5 million electric vehicles per year by 2016 while Tesla Motors and Panasonic are building a “Gigafactory” in Nevada that will produce 500,000 packs for EVs along with additional batteries for stationary energy storage, for a total of 50 million kWh per year of battery production. Further cell chemistry improvements may be necessary to hit the $150 per kWh target envisioned by the U.S.
The battery study from last month found that prices would need to drop under $250 per kWh for EVs to become competitive. The study projects that costs will fall to some $230 per kilowatt hour in the 2017 to 2018 timeframe.
We first look at primary and secondary batteries; then compare the energy cost derived from an internal combustion motor, the fuel cell and finally the electrical grid. This analysis is based on the estimated purchase price of a commercial battery pack and on the number of discharge-charge cycles it can endure before replacement is necessary. If omitted, nickel-cadmium is on par with nickel-metal-hydride and lithium-ion in terms of cycle life. Battery University monitors the comments and understands the importance of expressing perspectives and opinions in a shared forum.
While we make all efforts to answer your questions accurately, we cannot guarantee results. Again, I’ll abbreviate plug-in hybrid electric vehicles to PHEVs, and battery electric vehicles to BEVs – these are the “full” electric vehicles which don’t have an engine for backup.
They’re also much more expensive, although the price is falling and will continue to do so. Adding to the uncertainty, early EVs will have been sold below cost, or at least at less-than-economic returns to the manufacturer, as they started to develop the technology. Since EVs also contribute to road wear and tear (and demand for new investment), and to accidents, they should also be paying something for this. Electricity providers would find this a straightforward extension to their business, and I believe a number of companies in New Zealand would look at running these schemes.
In our previous work we estimated these levels to be reached only in 2018 and 2022, respectively. This seems to be the case in a recently filed lawsuit regarding rival battery chemistry patents involving BASF, Umicore, 3M, and Argonne National Labs.
By collaborating with customers, utilities can develop more intelligent and versatile grids. EEI writes that between 2007 and 2012, retail sales of electricity in the United States across all sectors dropped 2 percent. However, UBS does state that this shift still represents a “net opportunity” for utilities.
Either way, both reports paint a picture of how electric vehicles will cause massive transition and disruption to transportation and electricity markets, and in both cases, consumers are likely to benefit. Average battery pack costs have fallen 14 percent per year across the industry, which has seen sales volumes double annually in recent years.
Costs for market leaders have declined at an average of 8 percent per year, the study estimates.
Department of Energy (DOE) has set a target of $150 per kWh for battery electric vehicles to become broadly competitive and see widespread market adoption. Tesla and Panasonic are targeting a further 30 percent decline in battery pack costs by 2017, which would require a 7 percent annual decline in costs, consistent with a continuation of recent rates for market leading firms. By the end of 2014, more than 700,000 total plug-in vehicles had been sold worldwide (plug-in hybrids and pure battery electrics), up from about 400,000 at the end of 2013. The more kWh stored, the further the car can go on one charge, so a key metric for battery economics is the cost per kWh. Tesla Motors and Panasonic have started building a massive $5 billion plant capable of producing half a million battery packs (plus extra batteries for stationary applications) a year.
Primary batteries contain little toxic substances and are considered environmentally friendly.
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It seems to be generally agreed that battery costs are now less than USD $500 per kWh, although manufacturers would obviously want to make a profit on those costs at some point, and there are taxes and other considerations as well. Therefore, an 8 kWh PHEV battery could cost $5,200, and a 33 kWh BEV battery might be around $21,450 – still not cheap by any measure.
From my earlier posts, a vehicle running on electricity could use around 20 kWh to travel 100 km.
We obviously can’t tax them through petrol, and it’d be pretty hard to do it through electricity prices as well, so the logical way to do it is through Road User Charges.
This would more than double the running costs of BEVs, although they’ll still be cheaper than petrol cars. In my thesis, I assumed they average 3 litres of petrol per 100 km, although this will vary substantially. Someone might invent a transformational new battery chemistry (rather than lithium-ion), or we might simply see incremental advances.
And jointly, the penetration of intermittent renewables in our electricity mix can be increased significantly. At the same time, the American Society of Civil Engineers gives our energy infrastructure a grade of D+ and stated that 3.6 trillion of investment is needed by 2020 to maintain and improve the grid.
EV battery packs now cost $410 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) of storage capacity on average (with a 95 percent confidence interval ranging from $250–670 per kWh).
As of 2015, dozens of models of electric cars and vans are available for purchase, mostly in Europe, the United States, Japan, and China. Environmental conditions, such as elevated temperatures and incorrect charging, reduce the expected battery life of all battery chemistries.
According to the US Department of Energy, hydrogen is four times as expensive as gasoline and the fuel cell is ten times as expensive to build as a gasoline engine. Please accept our advice as a free public support rather than an engineering or professional service.
Things get a little less straightforward when you consider that the PHEV will cost a little more due to having both an electric motor and an engine, and the BEV will cost a bit less since its electric motor is quite a bit cheaper than the typical engine. Indeed, EVs would normally be subject to these, but they’ve received an exemption for the time being (to encourage their uptake). Drivers who only do short trips could end up using the electric motor for nearly all their driving. Furthermore, the aging grid is more vulnerable than ever to weather events and cyber-attacks. On the other hand, the opportunities for utilities present themselves in terms of smart grids and decentralized backup power generation.
Incentives other than cost may be needed to entice motorists to switch to the environmentally friendly fuel cell.
Perhaps that’s a sensible move, but it’s probably not something we’d still want to do in 20 years time when a growing number of cars are electric, and drivers of old cars will need to pick up the slack and pay more tax. Despite UBS’ optimism, it seems hard to see how these gains would offset the massive demand reduction.
The energy cost of the 6-volt camera battery is more than ten times that of an alkaline C cell.
The “marginal” cost you’ll pay for an extra unit of electricity, though, will be a bit lower.



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