Auto Tech

Experts see cost cuts for electric cars

Automotive News reports on the views of various experts that the cost of electric cars will rapidly decrease.

DETROIT--Although a technological breakthrough for batteries is unlikely before 2020, industry experts say the case for electric vehicles will improve significantly in the next few years.

Jon Bereisa, CEO of consulting firm Auto Lectrification, said at the Automotive News Green Car Conference here last week that costs of such items as the lithium ion batteries will drop as automakers boost production and achieve economies of scale.

Right now the battery costs are prohibitive for many drivers. For example, the Chevrolet Volt hybrid's battery, which holds the energy equivalent of about 1 gallon of gasoline, costs about $8,000, Bereisa estimates. In the next 10 years, Bereisa expects the cost of producing one unit of stored energy in a battery, called a kilowatt-hour, to drop by 30 percent, to $350. The Volt's battery is rated at 16 kilowatt-hours.

Meanwhile, drivers sharing their experiences will reduce anxiety about electrics, Mark Perry, director of product planning at Nissan North America, said at the conference.

"Cars on the road are simply the best way to get this done," he said.

Other factors, such as higher fuel-economy standards, will push the automakers to develop lighter vehicles, Bereisa said.

"We're going to have to make everything lighter, smarter, more efficient," Bereisa said.

Bereisa added that he expects next-generation lithium ion batteries to be two to four times more powerful than today's models. And Bereisa expects that sometime between 2020 and 2025 current lithium ion battery technology will be obsolete, replaced by solid-state batteries. Solid-state batteries will have solid electrolytes--not gel-like--that will make solid-state batteries more powerful.

Those new batteries, said Bereisa, will allow automakers to build cars that "we might not be able to imagine."

(Source: Automotive News)