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How automakers can drive electrified vehicle sales and profitability (mckinsey.com)
161 points by basitmakine on Feb 2, 2017 | hide | past | web | favorite | 194 comments

I had no idea lithium ion batteries had become so inexpensive. Here is the top search for "kwh battery" on eBay right now:


So with shipping, $869.96 for 2.4 kwh, or about $362/kwh. A $3 gallon of gasoline has 33 kwh, but only 8 kwh of usable energy due to the inefficiency of internal combustion engines, so $0.375/kwh.

So batteries are somewhere around 1000 times more expensive than gasoline, but, if they can be recharged more than 1000 times they may actually be cheaper. 1 kwh of electricity costs about 10-20 cents usually (call it $200 per 1000 charges). That's a total of $1069.96 for 1000 cycles, maybe $1269.96 for 2000 cycles, etc, something on that order anyway.

So $1 per cycle per kwh is pretty close to a breakeven against gasoline, and batteries are only going to get less expensive.

Ultimately, the batteries will win, but into your calculations consider the time value of money: how long will a given usage take to reach 1000 cycles. On the flip side, gasoline prices are volatile, and electricity from solar keeps getting cheaper, too. In a steady, non-volatile price march.

I just finished the Elon Musk biography — there's a good discussion about how Tesla was founded on the premise that the market did not yet recognize how cheap lithium ion batteries had become.

The original prototypes involved connecting hundreds of small batteries in parallel.


The production cars are still hundreds of small batteries in parallel. I wonder if with Model 3 they have the scale to move away from the standard form factors.

Yup, the current battery uses thousands of 18650s, but they developed a more 'economically efficient' 2170 cell for the model 3 - https://qz.com/879121/teslas-tsla-cheaper-more-powerful-2170...

>> the market did not yet recognize how cheap lithium ion batteries had become.

How did that happened in the age of the internet ? and are there still a lot of such technological "secrets" ?

"Secret" is not the right concept. It's not that people didn't know the price, it's that they didn't see the implications of the price for opening a new market. That kind of insight takes imagination as well as knowledge.

Happens all the time. Kind of how smartphones drove down the prices of components useful for VR goggles, and made them a feasible product.

Manufacturers in this industry don't exactly publish price lists.

At some point, the tax structure for cars has to be changed to account for electric vehicles wearing the roads and not yet paying to maintain them? I'm not sure, but I think that's what fuel tax pays for? So, the cost will go up at some point in that sense.

Then, on the other hand, $3/gal is a US-only phenomenon among countries that can really afford electric cars, everywhere else it is ~2x that? Europe, japan/korea/australia? I could be wrong here too but I think that's how it is. So there electric may already be quite a bit cheaper, depending on generation cost.

The vast majority of road wear is caused by heavy trucks. Passenger cars including electric models have very little impact on existing roads. But it would certainly make sense to shift road infrastructure funding more toward vehicle registration fees.

I don't have a source for this handy and I can't look at the moment, so I could be misinformed, but I'm pretty sure I've heard in many different places that the current fuel taxes in the US don't even come close to covering road maintenance costs.

I wonder if some kind of weight + mileage tax would work better?

States already rely on a variety of revenue sources, such as vehicle registration fees and tolls, in addition to gasoline taxes.

Ultimately I don't see how one could institute a fair system without converting all roads to toll roads (perhaps with variable pricing to manage demand).

Gasoline taxes are a reasonable proxy for "usage", so heavy users contribute more.

Registration fees treat everyone of the same make and model the same, be it a livery vehicle with six-digit annual mileage or a proverbial old-lady whose car is being driven around town twice a week. And one can't exactly levy a tax on kWh.

Fixed fees are much worse than gasoline taxes, because they lower the marginal cost of driving, making the already fixed-cost biased cost structure even worse.

(This is bad because it makes driving more very cheap for people who already have cars, the exact opposite what's good for extracting maximal utility out of minimal fuel use)

> I'm not sure, but I think that's what fuel tax pays for?

The high taxes on cars and gasoline usually goes to improve public transport.

your smart meter will take care of that... (if you charge a car at your home, they will know and charge accordingly)

I'm just fine with gas taxes covering EVs until a carbon tax can be imposed.

But converting electricity to mechanical power isn't 100% effective either, and the weight of the battery affects efficiency too. Petrol is much lighter, and its weight naturally diminishes as it is expended.

So at least for transportation, the breakeven is probably somewhat further than your calculation suggests.

The problem is not the stored energy. It is the time needed to store it.

Low on gas? Get to a station, take 10mn to refill and you're gone for 500 more miles. Low on battery? Get to a station, wait hours to get it charged back up and you can go for 300 more miles. The fact charging takes time means a long queue before you can get to a charger.

Drive for two hours, rest for 30 minutes while the car charges enough to drive two more hours. While not exactly the same usage pattern as a fossil fuel car, it should be enough. We need more quick charge points.

but that is not how people travel, ever.

besides time to charge the real big drawback of battery EVs is the weight of the packs

I would say this actually fits the majority of traffic patterns: https://www.rita.dot.gov/bts/sites/rita.dot.gov.bts/files/su...

EG: The vast majority of travel is for errands and work commuting. Probably a lot of that social travel in the linked survey is short distance as well.

Average miles a day is 30, which can easily be covered by an overnight charge.

Agree that the time to charge EVs is definitely a drawback for long distance travel (whether for social reasons or for transport etc.).

But this is how they used to travel when cars were first introduced. The Ford Model T could only get 170-200 miles [1] on a full tank of gas and gas stations were certainly as rare in the early 1900's as electric charge stations are today. Yet Ford still sold a ton of Model T's, and look at where we are today.

[1] Source: http://www.mtfca.com/discus/messages/118802/146015.html?1276...

>It is the time needed to store it.

For now. Battery tech is increasing at a fast pace.

You need to take into account the cost to the environment of burning gasoline. The true cost is closer to something like $8 a gallon. So now it's up to about $1/kWh. As someone else has already mentioned, Tesla's packs are about $190/kWh. You'd only need about 190 cycles before that starts breaking even, which could probably be done in a couple years.

Then.... take into account the cost to the environment of mining lithium and all the other elements going into the batteries and associated power electronics.

True, but that's a one time cost. Once EVs have a significant market share, everything will probably be recycled.

And if we play this game, to get it even, maybe we should compare the whole car since gasoline requires a big engine too.

My impression is that analysis which takes everything into account puts EVs far ahead in environmental impact, and I think they're slightly ahead in terms of total ownership costs.

Every gallon of oil that's taken out of the ground (besides plastics) goes into the air. Mining waste is very local and tractable compared to that.

Tesla is under $190kwh for their battery packs and falling.

I think the price / performance / capacity of battery for now and the next 5 - 10 years roadmap are already very decent. What i want to know though, if there are any possible improvement to Weight / Energy ratio?

The current battery are way too heavy.

The battery doesn't generate any energy though, it just stores it. I mean, technically, the gasoline is just storing energy too, but it was generated naturally long ago. You still have to burn some fuel somewhere to recharge the battery each time.

Many shale-oil outfits, spend more energy on retrieving the oil, than the oil actually contains. Oil can be profitable, without being a net energy gain, meaning it's true value is in it's ability to store energy.

It seems obvious that a battery needs to be charged. But it's not true that fuel has to be burned to recharge the battery. There are many other, cheaper, sources than burning things to turn a turbine to generate electricity.

8kwh per $3 results in $2.67 per kwh for gasoline. $362/$2.67 results in a cost ratio of 136 between bateries and gasoline. It's in the magnitude of x100, not x1000.

Lithium ion battery capacity decays with each charge down to 50% after 500 cycles

capacity decays with each charge down to 50% after 500 cycles

Not true with modern EV batteries. Tesla's packs typically show less than 8% degradation after 100,000 miles, which would be approximately 500 cycles.


Tesla batteries only show very little degradation because their capacity is limited by software[1]. You can "increase" your battery capacity by ordering a $9,000 software update.

[1]: https://electrek.co/2016/07/26/tesla-upgrade-software-limite...

>You can "increase" your battery capacity by ordering a $9,000 software update.

Thats only for certain specific model and delivery time combinations.

i.e just before they introduced the 90kWh option in production, some 85kWh cars were shipping with the 90kWh pack.

If you ordered a particular pack before the next step size started shipping, then that's all you got.

>Tesla batteries only show very little degradation because their capacity is limited by software

Not true. It's mostly to do with active management of the battery, and keeping it within the optimal conditions for much of it's life. These are things your phone and laptop can't (or rather: don't) do.

Everyone tends to plug in their laptop/phone and charge to 100%, then leave it there for long periods of time. Plus, laptops and phones tend to get very hot, and there's no active cooling of the battery.

This combination of conditions tends to reduce the life of batteries significantly.

>Everyone tends to plug in their laptop/phone and charge to 100%, then leave it there for long periods of time.

Why is this a problem for Lithium batteries?

Leaving lithium batteries at their extremes of charge state reduces their lifetime.

Tesla recommends that their customers to charge to only about 80% for normal daily driving, and that if they need the full 100% range that they should start driving very soon after it reaches 100% charge. They also recommend not leaving it at empty for very long too as empty cells are more likely to drop below their minimum voltage, and die.

I own an electric car (with a lithium ion battery) and commute daily with it.

It's now four years old, has driven over 45,000 miles (well over 500 cycles) and the total degradation is less than 10%.

Me too. Just traded in a 4yr old Model S with 52k miles and saw <10% degradation. Fully charged, it was 210 miles new, and about 192 after 4 years.

That depends greatly on the specific battery chemistry, the temperatures the battery is exposed to, the charge levels, the charge rates, etc. You can't just make a blanket statement like that.

This is a bullshit statistic that has somehow become a meme on the internet. It just flat out isn't true. There's EVs with over a hundred thousand miles on the original pack still doing great. Please stop repeating nonsense as if it is a fact.

I understand how frustrating that can be. Do you have a reference at hand that busts this myth?

Well, here's some data from a decent number of Tesla Model S in the wild:


I'd say it looks like they behave rather well in general.

Thanks! That is pretty impressive.

Guy #1: Shaking pinecones will scare snakes away.

Guy #2: No it won't.

Guy #3: Do you have any sources that disprove that claim?

The onus is on the person making the ridiculous claim.

I can tell you from personal experience I have had a Nissan LEAF for about 2.5 years and ~24k miles, driven daily and it has lost no range whatsoever. But if you want a study or something, you're gonna have to Google for yourself man.

Hey, your anecdotal experience is better than nothing. I'm reading this thread as an interested observer.

Both you and 'jjawssd are making claims, and you're very confident that 'jjawssd is wrong.

This is a bullshit statistic that has somehow become a meme on the internet. It just flat out isn't true.

I don't think it's unreasonable to expect someone who expresses that level of confidence to have something to back it up. And if the false claim is so widespread, I'd also expect someone to have busted it and publicized it. From my outside, ignorant point of view, both sides are unproven, with an edge to you because of your own experience.

We aren't both making claims. He's making a claim and I'm saying it's an unsubstantiated internet meme. My little joke example was meant to illustrate that.

I'm sure you have devices in your own life that disprove his claim. Look at your phone. Does it really go to 50% capacity after 500 days? None of mine have. Sure batteries degrade over time and you'll experience better performance one day or worse another, but he's claiming after 500 days of using your phone you should be at 50% capacity. That's obviously baloney.

You are both making claims, the positive and negative of a particular characteristic of batteries.

When I first read your comment, I thought you were a little over the top, but it sounded like you likely had something solid to back it up, so I was interested in learning something new. Personally, I don't make strong statements like that unless I can pretty quickly defend them. I honestly wasn't trying to catch you out. And seeing a myth busted is generally a good time!

As for phone batteries, I just had to replace mine, so that's not a particularly useful example. As I understand it, there's a lot of circuitry in phone batteries these days anyway, so I'm not sure what failed. I'm not going to use my anecdotal evidence for or against your case, for what it's worth.

Be well!

If I had said "No they maintain 100% at 500 cycles." Then I would also be making a claim. I made no claim, I just said his claim is an internet meme that is bullshit. There's a big difference. I'm not sure why this is so hard for you to understand.

I don't save a folder full of links to answer skeptical people on the internet and I'm not going to Google for you. If you're interested in reading articles, go look for yourself.

Anyway whatever. This has been a colossal waste of time.

What an unreasonably combative response.

Next time just say "sorry I don't have hard evidence for this opinion on hand". Nobody expects you to know everything but they do expect you to treat people decently.

My 2.25 year old LEAF with ~9000 miles on it has lost about 5% capacity. I'd be very surprised to learn yours has not lost any capacity.

Are you relying only on the 12 bar indicator or on the more detailed data download from the car's telemetry? My car still shows 12 bars, but has obviously lost some capacity (max range at 100% charge is down to about 95 from 102/103), just like my phone that still charges to "100%" but obviously has way less capacity after 3 years.

From my perspective, losing "no range whatsoever" after 2.5 years is the extraordinary claim.

I haven't downloaded the telemetry but we drive it every day and the range we get is extremely consistent. I'm sure there must be some degredation but my point is we haven't really lost any range. The weather and our driving behavior is the main cause of range variation.

If his claims about losing 50% capacity after 500 cycles were remotely true that would be the main cause of lost range ina 2.5 year old LEAF.

From my understanding, the LEAF has a primitive battery management system compared to other EVs, including passive air cooling of the battery. Lithium batteries are fussy about temperature (they have similar temperature preferences to humans) and outside of this the degradation can be faster. Other EVs have liquid heating and active cooling of the battery.

The LEAF does have a battery heater I'm pretty sure.

"These new scenarios do not reflect hippie idealism, they just take seriously a) the cost curves demonstrated by PV, EVs, and batteries so far, and b) what countries said they would do in Paris. ... If these forecasts play out, fossil fuels could lose 10 percent market share to PV and EVs within a decade. A 10 percent loss in market share was enough to send the US coal industry spiraling, enough to cause Europe’s utilities to hemorrhage money. It could seriously disrupt life for the oil majors."


I wonder, if the oil price crashes, and the gasoline prices fall, will that become a setback for EVs? Or will people have already lost confidence in ICE by then?

I imagine that if gas stations start to shut down due to low profitability, people will start worrying about whether their local gas stations is still operating in 5 years. So even if gas becomes dirt cheap, it might not become a setback.

We'll see. Interesting times ahead.

> It could seriously disrupt life for the oil majors.

Things weren't exactly groovy for them the last few years with sub-$40 oil.

They still have billions in profits each year.

A nice thing about this trend is that it means if you buy an EV today and replace the battery in, say, five years, the new battery will probably cost much less and also have much greater range. So you will have a car that gets better as it gets older, at least in some important ways.

Thats an interesting point, however that may not be how it actually plays out, at least from my somewhat relevant experience.

I had the misfortune of having my Honda hybrid's battery die, and if it weren't for CARB's extended emissions warranty for all HV car batteries, I would have been SOL paying 3-4K (or 2-3K for a refurb) for a tiny ~1kWh battery.

The new battery in my hybrid didn't go down in price significantly despite ~9 years of battery advancement, nor is it more powerful than the one it replaced.

I understand I'm comparing NiMH to Li-ion, but perhaps 5-10 years from now Li-ion will be superseded by a another chemistry, leaving today's electric car buyers with a similar experience.

I would hope this is just poor execution on the manufacturers behalf and will eventually realize that making the battery an upgradable module would be a great selling point. However, based on experience I don’t see manufactures wanting to sell better batteries when they can make it exclusive to newer models. I think after the proliferation of EV’s we will see a lot of aftermarket batteries with significantly better specs.

I would hope this is just poor execution on the manufacturers behalf and will eventually realize that making the battery an upgradable module

When does it ever work like this in the real world though? Planned obsolesce and all that. Even in this industry, replacement car parts cost far above the component price when the car was new.

Since Musk is not making electric cars just for the profits, maybe Tesla will produce replacement batteries with better specs at lower cost. Tesla cars are designed to have battery packs that can be easily replaced contra Apples recent devices. Tesla car batteries will be the first ones, at volume, that people with electric cars will want to replace. If Tesla sets the trend other car manufactures will be at a disadvantage if they don't follow.

One of the overlooked cool benefits of EVs imo, is that you can repurpose old batteries, even if they aren't suitable for the EV market. As a battery ages and loses capacity, say it goes down to only 50% of it's capacity when new, it may no longer be acceptable for use in a car but it could still be perfectly adequate as a back up power source in a house.

Right. So when you are calculating costs, you need to include how much you are going to get for your old battery at usedlionbatteries.com. Of course, the faster new batteries get cheaper and better, the less you old battery is going to be worth.

That's certainly true but I was mostly meaning to highlight the fact that as these batteries age, and may no longer be suitable for their original purpose, they could still be useful for a whole range of alternative purposes.

As the original battery owner I don't intend to get much for selling a used car battery, but it still seems quite cool to have it be repurposed for some other use.

Yes, it's against the interests of car manufacturers to do so. But i could see china encourage that open battery standard(among chinese companies only, behind closed doors) as a way to get market share of both cars and batteries.

> I would hope this is just poor execution on the manufacturers behalf and will eventually realize that making the battery an upgradable module would be a great selling point.

Older phones, e.g. Nokias would commonly had standardised, replaceable batteries. Sadly, this trend has gone by the wayside. I can imagine EV makers going the non replaceable battery route. Maybe in the future we'll have some popular open source EV+standard spec battery pack, the "build your own computer" version of an EV.

A few manufacturers do already offer upgrades. E.g. BMW offer an upgrade for the i3 from the original 22kWh pack to their newer 33kWh pack.

In theory, yes, but the replacement is incredibly expensive, I believe around $15k.

Tesla for the very low production run of Roadsters as well. (~2500)

Most of the battery advances have been inside the realm of lithium ion, so that's no surprise. These price drops are a specific stage in technology/manufacturing advances, not something that will continue indefinitely.

You can be confident that lithium ion won't be replaced on that short of a time scale. Nothing's ready to do so.

The important question is whether li-ion battery improvements will stop before EV's become decisively better than ICE.

Once there's a critical mass of EVs out there, I think we'll see a third-party industry cropping up doing battery pack replacements/rebuilds at competitive prices.

Third party pack upgrades already exist for some of the most popular EVs, like the Nissan Leaf.

Tesla will put an end to that, based on how protective they are about their cars.

They'll run into Magnuson-Moss if they try.

I tried to research this a bit. There have been a few models which have gotten an upgraded battery, so we should start seeing these options.

The new Nissan Leaf has a larger battery pack, but it's not backward compatible.


But they do have a batter replacement option which has better thermal management.


I wasn't able to find out anything about the Renault Zoe, or Kia Soul (new model isn't out yet though).

But our dealership did tell us that he expects there to be battery upgrades available for the Kia Soul, and this also seems to reflect what others on the forums have heard. But he did say it might be 3rd party options. Supposedly you can upgrade individual cells.

So the picture isn't clear yet. But I think once the market reaches a certain size, there will at least be 3rd party options.

In the full McKinsey report they forecast less of a drop going forward, 16% over the next 3 years, 55% drop over the next 13 years. So 4-5% per year. That is a lot less then the depreciation of a new car. It's probably not going to be worth it to replace the battery.

The depreciation of a new car is, in large part, based on powertrain wear. If relatively inexpensive battery replacements/upgrades are available, that changes the value of a used car. It could reduce depreciation substantially.

I would be surprised if a well-maintained, crash-free electric vehicle in a climate without road salt wouldn't be worth battery replacement.

It's also not the correct economic consideration; you have to compare the value of a used EV vs. that same vehicle with a battery upgrade. If that value is greater than the cost of the battery, that's all you need. High depreciation of new cars makes the upgrade more attractive, actually, if you're considering resale value; upgrading an old car would allow you to avoid the 'off the lot' hit.

Completely anecdotally, almost all of my ongoing car maintenance costs for a 18 year old car I recently sold have been unrelated to the power train. Wheel bearings, steering bushings, brakes.

This is probably in part due to the UK annual inspection which checks all these things and forces you to fix them.

I agree though that pretty much all the catastrophic scrap-the-car failures are power train related. A lot of modern engines are really, really reliable though, so will happily go for hundreds of thousands of miles without issue.

Unless, of course, the car manufacturers get the bright idea to make EV batteries "irreplaceable", too - you know, for "better efficiency" or to make the cars "leaner" or whatever their excuse would be.

When a battery "can't" be replaced on a consumer device, that generally just means you need a soldering iron or to pry it open. Many car repairs are already vastly more difficult than that, so those barriers would be negligible. It's hard to think of an equivalent.

I can't imagine people would put up with that. People buy new smartphones every few years, but they expect their cars to last decades. The average age of cars on American roads is 11.5 years. If you try to convince people to accept a sharp reduction in car lifetime, it had better come with a sharp reduction in price, or people won't buy it.

They'll probably remove the headphone ports while they're at it.

Or if they do the opposite (planned obsolescence).

Imagine thinner cars!

As an aside (and not to hijack the thread..) but keep this in mind when some economists argue that inflation is good.

It is technological improvement leading to falling prices that is beneficial to society and to an economy.

Falling prices is deflation, not inflation.

That was my point. That deflation is good not inflation.

I'm sorry that you are being downvoted, it seems nobody on HN has any reading comprehension.

An interesting thing:

> Around half of consumers in the US and Germany say they comprehend how electrified vehicles and related technology work versus almost 100% of consumers for ICE vehicles

I wonder if the almost 100% who say they comprehend how ICE vehicles work actually do understand it–even in a limited regard. It's easy to feel you understand something if you are familiar with it for the majority of your life.

As an ex-professional auto mechanic who has on multiple occasions explained to customers the problems their vehicle is having, I can say with confidence that the number of ICE owners who have the faintest clue as to how their vehicle works is nowhere near 100%. At best, gas goes in and goes "boom" at some point. Most owners of ICEs know about as much about how an ICE works as I know about how a nuclear reactor works (which amounts to "something something fission, heats water, and spins a turbine with steam).

And if that's the bar, then customers sure as hell know how an electric motor works.

Honestly, less than 5% truly 'understand' moving flux distributions or top cylinder quenching effects. I think it means that they are comfortable with what their (limited) understanding tells them. I have built a dozen engines and am still learning.

solve the problem of making EVs useful for city livers and then we can start to talk about real adoption - suburbia has luxury of charging EVs overnight when affordable but people living in apartments/condos/etc and parking on the street every night do not have accessible EV charging infrastructure

The biggest problem for city drivers (I'm in San Francisco) is we only need a car that goes about 45 mph, but we can only buy vehicles (electric or ICE) that are designed for 70-80 mph. They tend to weigh over 3,000 lbs, and a Tesla weighs near 5,000 lbs.

The best we can do right now are "Neighborhood Electric Vehicles", limited in the US to a top speed of only 25mph. Scoot rents one, a Twizy: http://blog.caranddriver.com/in-a-twizy-nissan-renting-elect.... They're fun to drive, but VERY rough and crude.

Perhaps we need a class of lightweight vehicles with a top speed just barely insufficient for freeway use? For pedestrian and bike safety, I'd think we need to keep vehicle mass and velocity as low as practical.

Oddly enough that is exactly what the linked report says, scroll to exhibit 11 and after: "Findings for the other seven consumer segments indicate near-term unmet demand for more basic mobility solutions (e.g., lower-range, smaller vehicles, less driving utility)."

That would be such a limited niche that I can't imagine manufacturers could sell enough to achieve economies of scale. The Nissan Leaf is super cheap and only weighs 3400 lbs so what's the problem there? From a pedestrian collision standpoint the motor vehicle weight is irrelevant; it's the speed and vehicle shape which affect injury/death rates.

I drove one of those Renault Twizy some years ago, and I can say it is not speed-limited by any means. In fact, it has a very good acceleration and top-speed around 100 km/h (at least, as I was afraid of turning it upside down on the highway!)..

How about the Mitsubishi i-MiEV, Fiat 500e, or the Chevy Spark EV?

electric bicycle

Yeah, I visited Rome last month, which is a city filled with small fuel efficient cars and really expensive gasoline. I didn't see a single electric. My guess is that because people live in apartments, they haven't figured out how to get charging at street level. It seemed there were parking permits for residents, but people don't own their spaces. For now its an interesting, unsolved problem.

Apparently the best selling car in Japan at the moment is an EV which you can't plug in, but only charges via a gasoline powered generator.


Interesting half-way-house for city drivers.

I saw a handful of Twizys when I was in Rome a few years ago, still not quite sure where they charged.

> people living in apartments/condos/etc and parking on the street every night do not have accessible EV charging infrastructure

DC Fast Charging mostly solves this problem -- roughly 80 miles in 30 minutes. Grab lunch while charging your car, and your battery is filled for the week. There aren't a ton of stations that support that speed yet, but more are being built every year.

> suburbia has luxury of charging EVs overnight

This is one of the few luxuries suburbia offers. Urban apartment/condo dwellers get dozens of benefits that suburban households don't, it seems only fair that suburban folks get a few things to enjoy.

That's already improving, though. I see lots of on-street charging points being installed here in London. Still not quite as convenient as having your own home charger, but certainly viable.

I agree. If you live in a condo building, it's very unlikely you can get a charging station installed.

Given current system costs and pricing ability within certain segments, companies that offer EVs face the near-term prospect of losing money with each sale. Under a range of scenarios for future battery cost reductions, cars in the C/D segment in the US might not reach true price parity with ICE vehicles (without incentives) until between 2025 and 2030, when battery pack costs fall below $100/kWh...

So the real business is 7 to 13 years away.

And they are ceding all of it to Tesla.

So... how long these batteries last? What about enviromental effect related to their recycling? That information is interesting.

They last. I have a 2-year-old electric Ford Focus and have noticed nearly zero battery degradation; the range has been consistent since day 1. Recycling the batteries is undoubtably less of an impact than even the recycling of engine oil from an ICE car over the same timespan.

Citing 2 years of life as evidence of longevity is a depressing sign of our disposable culture.

In this case, I see it as a good sign. Our battery technology has made so many significant advances that you wouldn't have been able to say the same 10-20 years ago. It's not that we're "ok" with degrading batteries, it's just that we're really really bad at stopping it.

I'll back this up with a related case - my 12 year old Prius still gets 50mpg+ though its battery pack was upgraded after 5 years (covered under warranty and free). Overprovisioning and paranoid charging profile are probably what resulted in this.

Got any facts to back up:

1. Zero degradation

2. Recycling (and producing) batteries has less e impact than petrol

> Got any facts to back up: 1. Zero degradation

Zero degradation is simply not true (all batteries degrade) but the degradation issue is largely overblown. I own a 4-year old EV, with over 45,000 miles and well over 500 battery cycles. It has degraded, but only a small amount (less than 10%).

Anecdotally, liquid-cooled batteries (Tesla, Chevy) seem to resist degradation better than air-cooled batteries (Nissan Leaf, Renault Zoe. But that assumes high temp swings -- if your careful with air-cooled ones, they can last a long time as well.

One thing some manufacturers do is 'lie' about battery capacity, which really helps sell the "zero degradation" claim. If a EV has a "16.5kwH" battery pack, the car might only actually let you use 10.5kwH of it. This way, use is gentler on the pack (you never really go from "full" to "empty", but from "80% full" to "20% full", and the car hides that fact from you), and the pack can swap out degraded cells for unused ones as needed, to maintain the illusion of no degradation.

As of today, I think degradation has become a non-issue now that range capacity is decent. Even if a 2017 Chevy Bolt degrades a full 30% after 10 years, it would still be a car that gets ~160 miles on a single charge, which is still useful to many people. (That's 50% more range than a brand new 2017 LEAF gets today, and LEAF is the #1 selling BEV in the US).

What happens to the economics when governments start charging some type of road tax on non-gas vehicles to replace gas taxes for road maintenance?

Back of the envelope calculation for the U.S.: Using the national average gas tax of 48¢/gal, if you were to charge an electric vehicle an equivalent of what, say, a 30 mpg vehicle would pay per mile, it'd be 1.5¢/mile, or $150/yr for a vehicle that does 10,000 miles a year. I don't think that's really a huge change to the overall economics either way, though it could push some marginal cases from above to below breakeven.

I visited New Zealand recently and was told that the reason Diesel was so much cheaper than unleaded was because it didn't have the road tax built into it so agricultural vehicles wouldn't have to pay for road they weren't using. As a result Diesel cars had to keep a logbook and pay a tax based on their mileage. Didn't ever get to see it in action.

There's not much to see, it's just a window sticker like the registration. It has the highest allowed odometer reading. For cars this is just checked against your dash odometer, for heavy vehicles (over 2.5 tonne iirc) it's checked against a tamper proof hub mounted odometer.

Flying cars

While Tesla finances and maintains road tunnels for Tesla owners to drive in.

The details can be debated, but the trend is real and has tremendous real world implications.

Clean air, enables 100% solar, 2.4 sec zero to sixty, and so on.

100% solar? we are super far from that and we need anyway to produce energy even at night.

We don't need to produce at night, we just need to consume from batteries, the topic of this post.

Grid scale lithium ion storage costs about $0.30/kWh right now. Residential is probably about $.40-.50/kWh.

Dropping by a factor of two and some time shifting is most electrical use, and the electricity is similar to rates in many parts of the country, just with peak rates at a different time.

> Grid scale lithium ion storage costs about $0.30/kWh right now. Residential is probably about $.40-.50/kWh.

I think you meant .30c/Wh, right? Or perhaps you are referring to the cost to purchase off-peak energy stored in grid-scale Li-ion battery storage systems (If so, I'm curious where you got that number).

Otherwise, .30c/Wh for storage implies that a 100kWh battery pack would cost $30, when it clearly costs much more.

I'm talking about the cost to store energy and then deliver a kWh from the system later, accounting for the lifetime cost and output of the system. The grid storage number i get from Lazard's:


And the residential I get from Tesla's estimated numbers for their residential system. The residential ones may therefore be a tad bit optimistic. But if you happen to know an electrician.... maybe then it's realistic, as a huge amount of the cost is not the battery itself.

We need to have energy at night. With enough storage capability, you don't have to produce it at night.

It doesn't just have to be solar. There's plenty of other forms of renewable energy (hydro, wind, tidal) that all become more viable and efficient if you can add storage.

Better grid technology will help too. If we can transmit energy efficiently over long distances, there's less storage required. Build a global grid and the whole planet can run on renewables: it's always sunny (or windy) somewhere.

> With enough storage capability, you don't have to produce it at night.

I'm not talking about powering one's home, I'm talking about powering cities and infrastructure - we are far away from having this kind of storage capability, and it's cheaper to produce electricity 24/7 than to build that kind of storage capacity anyway. It's all a matter of ROI.

Powering cities and infrastructure is qualitatively the same, it just takes more. And sure, the capacity is far from being there, but it's a matter of building it out.

As I said it's not just a matter of "can we build it", because obviously there's always a way to build it, but does it make financial sense instead of having a local powerplant running 24/7. So far, it's clearly not the case - capacity is way more expensive.

Fine, then. Wind at night

Clean in the city, most of that power is still from coal, just further from your tailpipe. You are just moving numbers around.

But those numbers being moved around are not equivalent. A centralized power plant is vastly more efficient and clean than thousands of little gasoline engines. This is true even for coal.

Not to mention it allows us to make policy decisions about where our energy comes from at the source without changing anything at the consumer side. If we find out that <energy source> is unhealthy, unsustainable, running out etc... We can change one power plant rather than millions of autos. If OPEC turns the taps off, we aren't all suddenly paying twice as much to drive to work.

Still, it is cheaper to add emissions monitoring and control on a single power plant than a few hundred thousand moving power plants.

This is no longer true in most of the USA (and many other countries) [1].

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_long_tailpipe

My roof is covered in solar, enough so that I'm net negative on electricity. No coal power here.

We are moving from fossil fuels to renewables. There are a number of different parts in the ff system, and we can't replace the whole thing all at once, so we are working on different parts, and over time. And it's working.

But I bet you already knew that.

Interesting that Honda has gone down the Fuel cell route, with EV coming soon for the clarity. Fuel cells are not going to win in this market due to the Tesla effect.


Toyota is also selling a fuelcell Mirai in limited markets.

Yes, you can buy a Toyota Mirai in California. Toyota is selling about 100 a month. This includes three years of hydrogen, and they even have some filling stations.

Hydrogen isn't a clean fuel, since the cheapest way to make it right now is from natural gas.

The battery in a Tesla is also not clean fuel because the cheapest way to charge it is from coal fired power plants.

True for most of the US but the Mirai is only sold in California which doesn't use more than 6% coal.[1]

Fuel cells seem like they'd be good for vehicles that can't have charging downtime. But then again hydrogen seems obnoxiously difficult to store what with all the escaping and the catching fire, so maybe we can stick to ICE and synfuels?

[1] http://www.energy.ca.gov/renewables/tracking_progress/docume...

"by 2020 there will be $ 190 per kWh and $ 20 per kWh less than $ 100 per kWh."


Anyway, we already know this. I'm hoping for third party battery packs by the time I need a fresh set for my 2011 Leaf. (Still years away)

I am quickly coming up to my next car purchase and I am debating the one last hurrah of another convertible or to swap over to an EV. I am still not convinced of the value of the current generation of EVs (200+ mile range only) and don't consider any of the sub 200 viable automobiles.

This might be the first time I consider a lease. I have seen what happens to current and previous generation EVs and unless you just plan to keep it you will get soaked. I also would like to see more movement on availability of charging outside of home.

About a year ago I leased a Nissan Leaf base model which has a rated range a little under 100 miles. I got a pretty good deal, but it was still a new car purchased from a dealership.

Total cost of ownership per month of the lease is $136. This is not counting KWHs or insurance, but includes all dealer costs, maintenance, and taxes. That's really hard to beat, other than buying some used vehicles. Lots of people spend more than that on fuel. These things are becoming affordable fast.

In my case, it's a 2nd car as my wife has a longer-range vehicle, so I'm fine that I can only use it for commutes and short trips.

> Total cost of ownership per month of the lease is $136.

Wow, that is striking. In the UK you could easily spend £200 a month on petrol costs for commuting, and I think the electricity costs would be small in comparison. There are lease deals for £150-200 a month, you could be paying off a new car and still pay less than just the fuel costs for your old car. I wonder whether this could be crafted into a successful advertising campaign.

Leases are definitely looking more attractive. You could also consider that the battery is an expendable component that you'll be able to upgrade separately to the chassis once the tech improves anyway.

Personally I think software upgradability is the most important criteria, which means either Tesla or lease and let someone else deal with rapid obsolescence.

Except that if I recall correctly Tesla has also stated that they expect to upgrading the hardware yearly as well (e.g. sensors). So an apt analogy may be an iPhone. iOS still get updates (which is great) but eventually you are going to need to get a new phone (/car).

I agree regarding leases being attractive. I feel like between EVs and self-driving cars the auto industry is in a very rapid period of innovation.

Of course the price of leases may factor that in.

Why don't you do both buy a used Tesla Roadster. You'll get one last hurrah with a convertible, and take advantage of the electric car depreciation you seem to be convinced exists.

Except they've managed to hold their value pretty well... Still, and attractive option, especially with the 3.0 battery upgrade available!

You could buy a Chevy Volt.

50+ miles of pure electric-only driving for the majority of your normal driving needs. But can also be filled up with gas for 200+ mile driving days.

If your considering buying an traditional car anyway, it gives you the best of both worlds.

My wife and I have a 2012 Nissan Leaf and a 1999 Toyota Camry. The Leaf gets driven every day. The Camry at least a couple times a week.

Before getting the Leaf I monitored my driving habits. The only days I ever drive more than ~20 miles are because I am going somewhere outside my daily routine. If you have access to a second vehicle, I would really recommend taking a second look at current EVs. Where else will you get heated seats, rear view camera, gps, alloy rims... all on a 3 year old car with 20k miles for less than 12k USD? It can be an amazing deal. Additionally if you have access to free charging at work it is a huge incentive.

Odd take on the range issue. I have a surprising number of friends who appear to rent a vehicle when making long trips rather than drive their own car. They'll drive their 15 year old car around town and to work and back. And then when they go on a road trip they rent. If it's just them they rent a compact car. If 4 other people a large SUV.

These people generally wouldn't be bothered by a car with an 80 mile range.

Depending on your drive cycle, you could consider a plugin hybrid that has enough EV range for your daily commute, but can easily go 300+ miles on gas if needed. We have one, and we barely use any gas, since most of our daily driving is within the EV range.

The selection of PHEV options are really great now. They include the Chevy Volt, Ford Fusion Energi, Ford CMax Energi, Chrysler Pacifica Minivan PHEV. If you are looking for a performance or luxury PHEV, even those are available: Volvo XC90 PHEV, Audi E-tron, and a couple BMW models.

200 miles "only"?

How many days of the year do you actually drive more than 100 miles?

If it's many, then electric is not yet for you yet, unless your destinations are near the Supercharger network.

Let's talk about performance capabilities.

Primarily galvanic battery chemistry gains?

These have not been on the rise and would need to be for batteries to ever take any meaningful marketshare from Coal.

Give it time...

Cost reduction of existing battery technology is all that's needed to make batteries widely useful for grid energy storage. No new chemistry needed, just economies of scale.

This is happening in CA [1] and elsewhere. The trend will enable renewable energy sources like wind and solar to meet larger portions of total electrical demand.

That will cut into coal's power generation market share. Probably pretty rapidly.

[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/30/business/energy-environme...

Or, you know, automakers can see their wealth destroyed like every other industry that is made more efficient through technology

The automakers have a short term problem. Which is their profit margins are aligned with being an older stodgy industry. However they now need to make large investments in new technology driven by a real risk of going out of business if they don't. The last time we saw something like this was the big push to add emissions controls and improved crash safety back in the 1970's.

How hard is it to spin off / startup a separate EV company?

What is the environmental impact of EV car batteries? Making them and recycling them? When we have a billion EV's and batteries in every home with solar, will we have a problem?

Well that will depend on what are the materials they are being built with when that happens.

The materials being used presently won't scale to such big numbers as you purpose, so it will all depend on the alternative materials being used by then.

They won't? What materials are we limited by?

It's unclear if we have enough lithium and cobalt. But nobody's really tried and Elon doesn't seem worried about it.

Not questioning the accuracy of the predictions, but this article is so full of typos that it makes it hard to read and get the relevant information.

This looks like blogspam, probably best to link to the actual McKinsey page: http://www.mckinsey.com/industries/automotive-and-assembly/o...

According to the research result, we can see that the same batteries can be produced at 227 kWh per kWh in 2010... and that by 2020 there will be $ 190 per kWh and $ 20 per kWh less than $ 100 per kWh.


Definitely sloppy. From the report (PDF: http://www.mckinsey.com/~/media/McKinsey/Industries/Automoti... )

From 2010 to 2016, battery pack prices fell roughly 80% from ~$1,000/kWh to ~$227/kWh

Current projections put EV battery pack prices below $190/kWh by the end of the decade, and suggest the potential for pack prices to fall below $100/kWh by 2030

Up-vote for the better explanation - but you basically stated what I did as well (but mine was a guess - a correct educated guess, but still a guess)...

I think your's wins!

For later viewers who won't understand the down votes, because comments have relative times after an hour: this is a content-free quibble over who deserves credit, the grandparent, who linked an original source with a perfectly pulled quote, or the parent, who "guessed" 4 minutes later.

/Off topic

IMHO, the thread's already self-policing (with a downvote mechanism).

Personally, I found your comment confusing. Currently, cr0sh's other comment has already been pushed down by sibling comments. Suggestion: add links to specific comments.

I explicitly said parent and grandparent, and frankly, it's helpful to point out toxic behavior, it encourages down votes.

By the time your comment was made, cr0sh's other comment [0] -- which you didn't give relative directions to -- had already been pushed down. Thus, I didn't follow at first.

I don't think you have to direct other people to downvote on HN. Again, the community's good at self-policing.

[0] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=13556024

It's a machine written blogspam article, and probably shouldn't be on HN.

I feel like I' on a poorly written simple english wikipedia page...

Based on the rest of the article, I think this should read:

> According to the research result, we can see that the same batteries can be produced at $227 per kWh in 2010... and that by 2020 it will fall to $190 per kWh and...

...and that's where it lost me - but something about it falling to $100 per kWh (maybe by 2030?)...

This is from the linked paper.

'From 2010 to 2016, battery pack prices fell roughly 80% from ~$1,000/kWh to ~$227/kWh (Exhibit 4).4 Despite that drop, battery costs continue to make EVs more costly than comparable ICE-powered variants. Current projections put EV battery pack prices below $190/kWh by the end of the decade, and suggest the potential for pack prices to fall below $100/kWh by 2030'

So in 6 years the cost of battery packs has dropped 4 to 5 fold. And by 2030 may drop a total of 10 fold vs 2010 prices.

Help me out; I can't see a common theme except this person really likes a site called hardavenue.

"Really likes", or "owns"/"runs"/"works for"?

Next time just say "this person is spamming a site that he/she owns" instead of the cryptic statements you made. Clarity is important.

Why? (It's not obvious to me by your link.)

Originally this was a link to hardavenue.com instead of the source. It has been updated by the mods. (I had also flagged, which apparently stuck around after the change so I've now unflagged the article.)

"Consumer demand is starting to shift in favor of electrified vehicles and has strong disruption potential"

Bull. It's a joke to talk about customer "demand" when a single damn car hasn't been sold without government subsidies.


You don't think the gasoline car system has subsidies?

EVs would be completely viable and cheaper then ICE right now if we had more functional government. It is not terribly difficult to add inductive charging to roads from an engineering perspective.

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