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A Behind the Scenes Take on Lithium-Ion Battery Prices (bnef.com)
142 points by jseliger 13 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 118 comments





I really love this quote from the end of the article:

There is also a legitimate debate about whether or not experience curves inherently capture technological step-changes. Put simply, something that looks like a future breakthrough today might end up simply being another point on the curve, by the time it is developed and engineered into a viable product and brought to market in a decade’s time.

Sometimes this is definitely not the case, e.g. the Moore's-law-like curve of network speed improvements[1] tend to occur in steps, related to the need to upgrade both infrastructure and the endpoints to achieve a new speed tier.

[1] pick your domain: LAN, WiFi, cellular


The wireless techs usually have a lot of refinement over time, so that the real-world speed you get for a price is a lot smoother than a step function on revisions. LAN tech is isolated enough that each link upgrades in a step function, but bigger paths are a function of the price of multiple links and also smooth out.

It'll be great when these battery cost reductions filter through to home batteries. At the moment a Tesla Powerwall 2.0 costs $6,700 for 13.5 kWh, so $496/kWh, which is doesn't work as a financial investment.

We've got a solar installation and so I have been considering getting a battery for either off peak to peak cost arbitration, or capturing excess solar energy for use at night.

In the UK a Powerwall costs around £9,000 to £11,000 including additional hardware, taxes and installation. Based on some estimates (see below), at current prices I think you would be lucky to get a third of that back through energy bill savings.

If the Powerwall sold at closer to its battery pack cost, it might be worth considering.

Off peak to peak arbitration

  Peak cost of energy (£ per KWh) - £0.1573 
  Off peak cost of energy (£ per KWh) - £0.0815 
  Saving per KWh - £0.0758 
  Powerall 2 - maximum lifetime throughput - non solar uses (KWh) -  37800 [1]
  Lifetime power bill saving £2,865.62
Solar PV energy capture

  PV System Size (KWp) - 5.76 
  Solar irradiation - 986 
  Annual yield (KWh) - 5679 
  Annual energy exported to grid - assume 70% - 3976 
  Annual proportion that could be captured - estimate 50% - 1988 [2]
  Peak cost of energy (£ per KWh) - £0.1573 
  Annual saving - £312.66 [3]
  Warrant Period (years) - 10 
  Total saving over warranty period - £3,126.57
[1] https://www.tesla.com/sites/default/files/pdfs/powerwall/pow...

[2] In winter months, all solar energy could be captured, but in summer the panels will produce more than the Powerwall is able to store.

[3] Doesn't factory in degradation over the period, which Tesla quotes at 80% capacity after 10 years


What prevents cheap home lithium power?

It seems easier for powerwall derivitives to become cheaper than solar because the % total cost of ownership not attributable to batteries is less. For example, it may not require a bunch of people on your roof, maybe less permit or zoning related costs, maybe less electrician labor, etc.

Why couldn't a startup with a couple of EE's design something comparable or maybe even something with ease of installation innovations using commodity battery cells? Couldn't they buy cells in small batches online at first, paying notch or two higher than wholesale until they ramp up sales? Not sure how it couldn't start as a garage business for a clever engineer undergraduate and a clever sales/marketing/distribution person.

I mean, people are already rolling their own as side projects right (without going into the practicality or safety of that, just in reference to the barriers to entry)?


Part of the problem is grid tie inverters. 1 kW used to cost about 10 times more than the equivalent 1 kW computer power supply, but prices have finally dropped to the point where they are comparable (roughly $100/kW):

https://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_nkw=grid+tie+inverter

https://www.amazon.com/s?k=grid+tie+inverter

IMHO power converters like these are the future, because eventually we'll plug in all noisy sources of power from wind/solar/thermal into an inverter that accepts any voltage and plugs into the wall to provide 110 V AC. So roughly 12 of these (for a typical 100 amp system) would power the average home, meaning the inverter portion of a Powerwall should cost no more than $1200.


This would be really nice to see. I started looking into emerging battery tech eight or ten years ago, and was really excited-- between approaches using compressed air storage (ha), liquid metal, saltwater, molten salt and new ways of using cobalt, I was convinced consumer price per kWh was about to be slashed in half by someone, somewhere, at least for stationary battery arrays.

Since then, most of my enthusiasm about potential new products, bundles and kits that could be driven by this has steadily evaporated as consumer price per kWh for actual, usable power storage has more or less held steady. At this point I'm just as curious what's keeping it stuck there as I am about what we could do if it wasn't.


The cells themselves are the expensive bit. There have been one or two people doing it as recreational projects but obviously Tesla's vertical integration and large production run will win over the garage tinkerer.

Not to mention that selling an unsafe product is a non starter.

No, the interesting thing to me is why everyone forgot about the other chemistries like NiFe, which are cheaper but heavier - matters less for a fixed installation.

Also I feel that proper net metering should be better than domestic batteries for the normal case. The only reason it isn't is regulatory spinelessness.


> The only reason it isn't is regulatory spinelessness.

The reason it isn't widely used is because it is an absolutely terrible idea. The value of home solar fed to the grid is almost everywhere negative to the utility. (They need to maintain fixed capacity to meet worst case demand, constant power sources are cheaper than adjustable ones, and it costs money to bleed off excess power when there is not enough demand for it.)

If you force them to pay you for your useless solar excess, they just have to raise the prices on everyone. This makes home solar more attractive, resulting in even larger useless peak production, and higher electricity prices. It gets even worse if the power transmission isn't decoupled from production.

A form that would make sense is instead to allow customers to sell electricity back to the utility at the current short term spot price. As excess production would drive that price to be negative, it would limit installation to the level that is healthy to the grid.


> The value of home solar fed to the grid is almost everywhere negative to the utility

[citation needed]

Also, being of negative value to the utility is not the same as negative value to society! Is it displacing carbon-based generation? Is it reducing the need to buildout power lines?

> costs money to bleed off excess power when there is not enough demand for it

This doesn't happen during the day. Very occasionally some wind farms get curtailment payments at 3am or similar. There are no giant resistor banks to dump energy.

> force them to pay you for your useless solar excess, they just have to raise the prices on everyone

Economics 101: producing more of a product makes it more expensive! No, wait, the other thing.

> constant power sources are cheaper than adjustable ones

Be specific: nuclear (no longer really being built, surprisingly expensive) or coal (phasing out)?

In the UK it mostly displaces dispatchable CCGT: https://www.gridwatch.templar.co.uk/

(Some of these problems might appear at 10x the current solar market penetration, but most of them are just anticompetitive complaints by utilities because solar shows up as negative demand)


pjc50, I really hope you give the sibling comment's argument a chance.

Net metering is not at all unambiguously good, and in practice is simply a wealth transfer to the wealthy (who own a house and can afford panels) from the poor.

It might be a decent way to kick start solar (like other subsidies) but as a long term policy it is extremely regressive.


As you say, if we want green power it's going to have to be mandate or subsidy to someone, and it's not a bad idea to bribe the middle class to support green energy. Otherwise you end up with the argument that "building a wind farm is simply a wealth transfer to the capitalist bankers who funded it from the poor people who have to pay for energy", which is true but ignores the wind farm.

"Energy poverty" is a real problem but that needs to be addressed separately. I'd rather raise energy prices and increase transfer payments than try to keep energy cheap, so long as any of it is generated by fossil fuels.


I'm OK with society as a whole bearing the cost burden of transitioning to renewables. I'm opposed to making the poor pay for it. Why use horribly regressive net metering, when you could just subsidize panels out of the general tax pool which is progressive in most countries?

The reason net metering is chosen is people don't understand or choose to ignore the hidden (but very real) increase in the price of electricity paid by the poor, unlike a line item on a budget which must be explicitly allocated out of the budget.

> Economics 101: producing more of a product makes it more expensive! No, wait, the other thing.

The sibling commenter was absolutely right on that point (I don't agree with him eveywhere). If you view it as so trivially wrong that you can be flippant about it, it's because you don't understand the issue.


Neither of you have really presented an argument that (a) establishes that net metering is overall more expensive than other renewable means of supplying the electricity (b) the price of electricity fed to the grid is strongly coupled to the retail price charged for it, rather than a operating as two separate markets; (c) that electricity pricing, which everyone consumes, is actually regressive; (d) that the effect of solar energy supplied at peak time is actually an overall increase in prices, especially those paid by retail consumers ("duck curve"); (e) that this overrides all other ethical or redistributive concerns.

There's plenty of argument in the other direction:

http://www.renewwisconsin-blog.org/2014/06/judge-overturns-r...

https://ctmirror.org/category/ct-viewpoints/eliminating-net-... "This “cost-shift” argument is a tactic from the utility playbook and is commonly used by clean energy opponents. But it lacks any basis in fact"

https://www.utilitydive.com/news/wellinghoff-and-tong-a-comm...


This author makes a good argument as to why rooftop solar is a bad deal from a technical perspective, specifically with regard to system stability:

https://syonyk.blogspot.com/2018/05/why-typical-home-solar-s...

See the section on "Power Grid Stability and Rooftop Solar"


The first link is a judicial decision on the interpretation of the law, and the second a diatribe with nothing backing it up.

The third actually makes some arguments and links to data, which is great, so I went and read the reports they're linking to, to see if they back up the claims made.

1) The Nevada study

> They contend that, far from shifting costs, NEM customers create net value to the grid and all grid users. One only need look to a study commissioned by the neutral Nevada Public Utility Commission that shows NEM customers provide a net present value benefit of $36M to non-NEM customers in Nevada.

The Nevada study does not tackle net metering in a vacuum. It's comparing it as an alternative to legislated renewable energy quotas and finds it a wash, i.e. the utility builds solar or buys it from customers. This isn't surprising, and doesn't support the claims the article makes.

2) CPUC Study

> But critics (as well as NEM advocates) overlooked that the same CPUC report also found that NEM customers as a whole “appear to be paying slightly more than their full cost of service” – 103% of their costs, to be precise.

The link was broken, but I hunted it down. The full table looks like this:

[Customer Type] [Without DG] [With DG]

Residential: 154% 81%

Non Residential: 122% 112%

Combined: 133% 103%

In other words, a residential customer that installs solar under net metering will go from paying their cost and providing a profit margin for the utility, to paying far less than their cost, raising the price for other customers (as we have been saying).

The benefits to non residential customers under net metering laws are lower, because it doesn't necessarily help with the demand charge (because the power is actually paid for in a more fair way). Pointing to a combined number in a table and discounting the need for a profit margin is basically an outright fabrication.

The table explicitly supports the fact that net metering is a regressive transfer of wealth, and the author used it to argue the opposite.

So while the first two links were obviously rubbish, I had to waste half an hour of my life digging in to the reports behind the third link to find out that it, in turn, also turns out to be rubbish. The author was clearly just mining reports for data points that would fit their narrative.


I'm in the UK and use a Moixa home battery with my solar panels.

I agree that the tech is too expensive right now to break even - although I'm also dumping spare solar into my car's battery.

https://shkspr.mobi/blog/2016/03/meet-maslow-the-uks-answer-...


Thanks, I'll take a look at Maslow and Moixa.

We've got an electric car too, so I plan on getting a Zappi installed soon to push all surplus energy into the car battery. It automatically adjusts the charge rate to match the level of surplus being generated.

https://myenergi.uk/

I'm thinking of combining this with Economy 7 for charging the car at night when we've not had much sun.


I bought a 24kWh battery for £6500, came with free wheels to drive it around.

Can it power your house, though?

(Serious question. I hear some of them can.)


The Nissan leaf is the only widely available one that can. In fact it's the chademo standard that allows it (the plug type)

New generation cars are coming with that feature on other standards but as far as I'm aware, no other mass production vehicles are equipped with it yet.


Yeah, it's a Leaf, but it costs way too much for a device to do so. Turns out CCS can't do V2H until v3 which isn't out yet.

When I asked for a price in 2017 it was $2600


From what I have read, the problem is that there is a shortage of batteries for Powerwalls because Tesla's total demand for batteries is running ahead of its supply, and the company gives the priority to its autos, so Tesla is keeping the Powerwall prices high for now.

Although the price may be getting lower, I was lucky enough to hear a presentation from the head of Automotive Engineering at the University of Windsor. The professor conveyed that there are many other issues for power storage such as a limited amounts of cobalt and difficulty in retrieving it.

I inquired about what is likely to happen as cobalt is a relatively scarce resource if we are looking to use it for powering our world. He said he is sure that they [researchers] will find some substitute, but right now there is none.

As the scarcity of other elements in power storage increase, it may drive up the prices, even if the lithium itself can be sourced.


The article has a price sensitivity analysis for cobalt, which suggested that a doubling of cobalt prices would result in a meager 2.4% increase in battery prices. That cobalt price increase would open new mines, so I’m not too worried about that one.

It’s a good article!


Example of an new upcoming cobalt mine (USA, Idaho): https://www.ecobalt.com

Historical cobalt price charts: http://www.infomine.com/investment/metal-prices/cobalt/all/


Does it assume equal distribution of cobalt supply?

What I mean is, if demand goes up, but the cobalt suppliers are all on long-term contracts with manufacturers, could the manufacturers then drive up price since they control the essential inputs?


- There is more than one manufacturer currently on the market, so they can not drive up the prices unless they get into some risky collusion.

- Doubling the price of a mineral does generally causes many new suppliers to appear.


I’ll have to trademark “Lithium Producinf Exporting Countries” before they do.

How is collusion risky? Seems worth trying.

Restrict supply, jack up prices, maybe lose 20% of your sales by weight, but make it up with revenue.


You can get lithium from sea water. Cartels work for oil because nation states physically control it.

You cant enforce a cartel where all non land locked countries can compete with you if they choose.

And for businesses cartels are illegal in most of the largest markets so that won't work either.


You can get lithium from sea water

There's an ass-ton of lithium in certain parts of the American west. I've met some of the people working for the companies getting set up to exploit it once battery demand drives the price high enough.


Just because you can, it doesn’t mean it’s economical even when the other source prices are inflated.

Oil has lots of substitutes and alternatives too.

OPEC’s members seem to have good enough business relations with the largest markets.

I don’t see too many OPEC members getting arrested anywhere.


No, oil does not have lots of easy substitutes, not for its main uses.

Vegetable oils make an easy sub for diesel. Natural gas does for heating.

Much easier to convert for those than the cost of switching from mined lithium vs sea lithium.


> How is collusion risky?

The first player to defeat from a cartel can take most of the market for itself, right from the other colluding players.


Is cobalt really that rare, or are there just not a lot of mines right now because it hasn't been valuable before? The price of cobalt can triple and it won't add much to battery prices, since it's not that much of the pack. That price, however, will sure make building more mines a good idea.

It's mainly mined from the "Democratic Republic" of the Congo, which is a violent country that uses unethical practices in its mining industry. There is speculation to find non-DRC sources of Cobalt, however it's been mentioned in EV articles numerous times in the last few years.

> It's mainly mined from the "Democratic Republic" of the Congo, which is a violent country that uses unethical practices in its mining industry.

That's a euphemism for child slave workforce.


that is who produces most of it today, but it is widely distributed, being found wherever copper and nickel are. Among the top producers after DRC and Russia are Australia and Canada - so there's not going to be some cobalt catastrophe.

Yes, like Cobalt, Ontario. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cobalt,_Ontario

Silver boom town at the begging of 20th century turned into ghost town when the mines have run out of silver, now might turn into boom town again because of how cobalt is used in battery manufacturing.


Hey, just so you know, it seems that you've been hellbanned/shadowbanned. So when you're posting, most people can't see you or respond to you, and your posts are automatically flagged and "killed". It looks like it happened about 7 months ago when you posted some comments about not liking Nazis. Very strange that you're being punished for being vocal about disliking Nazis!

In the oil industry whenever someone says we'll run out of supply, they're shot down by people saying "we'll discover new oilfields or technology will unlock previously inaccessible ones."

Funny how that blind faith in "market prices will figure it out" never applies to renewables.


It's not entirely blind as is demonstrated by the price history and the similar histories of semiconductor and solar cell prices. That isn't to say that there can't be price shocks or material shortages, but there are quite a few politically and economically motivated naysayers.

> people saying "we'll discover new oilfields or technology will unlock previously inaccessible ones."

To be fair, it's what has been happening so far. Of course it'll stop one day. Also I think oil major are aware of the fact, that's why some of them are investing in renewables (like bio-fuels).


Perhaps because renewables wouldn't have gotten started if it weren't for subsidies. Was that the right move? Perhaps it was. Seems that way for Wind Power.

I think the issue with cobalt is that it's produced as a consequence of extraction the copper it occurs with. Meaning no primary ores exist. Some other metals like nickle are also mined as secondary minerals but the current supply dwarfs the amount needed for batteries.

Counter example lithium comes from primary sources. If demand goes up we'll just increase extraction and or bring new sources online.


You're counting on an inelastic demand for Cobalt. The reality is that every single BEV maker is looking to reduce its cobalt demand. To assume that the innovators in this innovative field are not innovating is not a safe assumption.

Someone said Musk tweeted a while back that future batteries would be cobalt free.

https://twitter.com/elonmusk/status/1006968985760366592 (Elon Musk: "We use less than 3% cobalt in our batteries & will use none in next gen")

Thanks couldn't find it

Low cobalt content in their battery design is one of the Tesla industry advantages currently, and as mentioned in another comment here Elon has already said they'll need no cobalt in the near future.

Is that actually a Tesla advantage?

Panasonic manufacture the cells, do they not own the ip etc?

I suppose its a current Tesla advantage, Panasonic are signing contracts with other manufacturers though, so it isn't really a defensible moat.


The chemistry is actually specified by Tesla, not by Panasonic. It is specific to them. How much of an advantage is it? That remains to be seen, but given the efficiency wins of Tesla over its competitors this year, it seems defensible.

For how long, who knows, but Tesla has a battery advantage today with their NCA cells using substantially less cobalt than the ubiquitous NCM cells competitors use. [1]

I don't think any advantage in battery tech today could possibly hold for another 5-10 years considering how much competition and active research there is. We hear about major battery breakthroughs in the news every few months, presumably some of these will reach consumers in the coming decades.

[1] https://static.seekingalpha.com/uploads/2018/10/18/1580111-1...


Well Tesla is doing its own research as well plus what I have read Tesla is always on the lookout for any viable improvement in battery tech. They just bought a startup that would improve its batteries

The Panasonic/Tesla relationship breaks down to:

* Tesla chemistry, pack design, and use.

* Panasonic manufacturing equipment and expertise.

I don't think Tesla is unassailable here, but they do have a significant head start.


A tweet from Elon a while back said the next-generation of Tesla batteries will contain no Cobalt.

And as we all know, Elon's tweets are the gold standard of reliable forward-looking information. /s

Interesting that we are already well below the predicted cost per kWh of one report[1] from 2012 that projected a price of EUR250 in 2020; according to the bnef article that price was crossed between 2016 and 2017. The 2012 article used a 14% rather than 18% reduction per doubling of capacity that the BNEF article is using.

1: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/225025651_Competiti...


You can buy Samsung INR18650-30Q (top of the line) off aliexpress in bulk for about $3 a piece. It's about 11 Wh.

You'd need 90 of these batteries to make a 1kWh pack, costing $270. Obviously this does not include casing, assembly, and BMS (battery management system), but that's an inexpensive (probably 10%) overhead.

Buying in "super bulk" and "from alibaba" would probably be even cheaper, and would probably approach $176/kWh.

edit: Check out Jehu Garcia on youtube if interested (no affiliation).


Is there anyway to confirm they are legit Samsung cells? Batteries seem too ripe for counterfeits.

Two options:

- Sort by orders. If seller has sold the most, probably a reliable seller.

- Buy a handful (or samples) first (you can ask seller that you need samples first), and test their capacity (using e.g., a good charger, I have Zanflare C4). The model I mentioned should have 3Ah (or 3000Ah). If confirmed, those are legit cells.


Plus the first order is the least likely to contain bad cells because you’re doing QA.

Correction: 3Ah or 3000mAh.

>$62/kWh by 2030

I seem to remember reading that $100/kWh is the point where electric cars are cheaper to manufacture than traditional ICE cars.


Well, $100/kWh is a very rough estimate. A ballpark number. Depending on what kind of niche you're talking about, it could be anything from $50 to $200/kWh. An electric car can in principle be cheaper today if you only need a very small battery.

$62/kWh would pretty much mean that BEVs are cheaper to operate in nearly all segments though.


I've heard the $100/KWh number regularly, but I think it only applies to certain products. For a large sedan, that is still $10k of the manufacturing cost. For smaller cars (Model 3 sized), 5-6K. That is still going to be a substantial price hike, IMO.

There is probably some savings in not having to put in a transmission, much of the fluid system, electric motor might be cheaper. this is a little old [1] but it shows that the drivetrain is cheaper on a BEV compared to ICE. They probably haven't achieved all the savings possible yet, as model 3 is the only massmarket vehicle and it is decidedly more towards luxury with an impressive engine. When the big manufacturars starts to pump no frill BEVs into the market, we might see some optimization here.

[1] https://www.researchgate.net/publication/260339436_An_Overvi...


They probably haven't achieved all the savings possible yet, as model 3 is the only massmarket vehicle

I've surely misunderstood you when I take you to say that Tesla is the only one making mass-market electric vehicles.


> as model 3 is the only massmarket vehicle

Chevy Bolt


Bolt has been around 5,000 units per quarter, starting to close in on 10,000.

That's simply not mass market.


I was under the impression that the Bolt has only been produced in a limited quantity.

Why does everyone forget the Leaf?

Don't forget that electric drive-trains are getting cheaper faster than ICE drive-trains. The total cost of a base model compact car drive-train is probably still less than $5k though, so there's only so much room at the bottom.

If that's the case, what manufacturers are actually going to be in a position to take advantage in < 5 years?

Most of them. Pretty much all the major OEMs have announced plans for fully electric lines within the next 5 years and have already started developing test vehicles and tooling for EVs. Outside of Tesla, the frontrunners currently are probably Audi (they have an entire e-Tron line that just isn't pushed much in the US), BMW (same with the i line), Nissan, and Chevy.

Keep in mind, too, that cheaper batteries doesn't just mean cheaper Teslas, it also means cheaper hybrids which are likely to remain popular for quite some time.


> Audi (they have an entire e-Tron line that just isn't pushed much in the US)

It's not pushed anywhere. None of those have shipped yet. The only car with that branding that you can buy is a hybrid, not a BEV.


Its unclear how many of those are anything more than dipping their toes in the water.

Theres a lack of product range, and don't forget the scale, these manufacturers are currently producing 1000s of evs, they need to scale to millions.

VW seem to sound most serious, aiming for 50 models by 2025, but what do they have now?

And don't forget lead times. They will be starting to design those 2025 cars right about now. Are they ready for that?


It's important to note that "electrification" in these press releases is often referring to hybrid vehicles, not battery-electric vehicles as normal people would interpret the term. VW is promising a mix of BEVs and hybrids across all its marques.

Quoting from Forbes at the time of the announcement:

>Keep in mind, this doesn’t always mean a pure electric car. An electrified vehicle could mean a gas-electric hybrid or a plug-in hybrid. For instance, VW’s 80 new electric cars goal for 2025, includes about 50 purely battery-powered vehicles and 30 plug-in hybrids.


One way to tell how serious an auto manufacturer is about electrification is to look at what it is doing with batteries, like is it entering into large, long-term contracts to buy them.

Precisely. Right now, apart from Tesla the one big manufacturer that has made plans to source massive amounts of batteries is Toyota.

https://asia.nikkei.com/Business/Business-deals/Toyota-and-P...


I'm under NDA with one of the companies in my list, so I can't provide details. The short answer is yes, but not necessarily with US-oriented vehicles.

Yes, they will be ready?

That's encouraging that at least one company is serious.

Why not with US vehicles? Do you think US consumers will continue buying combustion cars even when EVs are cheaper?


> Why not with US vehicles? Do you think US consumers will continue buying combustion cars even when EVs are cheaper?

Not OP, but I would speculate north american consumers have more range anxiety than many markets (300km range would suit a larger portion of the market in Asia and Europe than in North America). Also, fuel taxes are significantly lower in North America (and the US in particular) than Europe and Asia, so combustion engined vehicles will remain total-cost-competitive for a few years longer.


I know Americans can drive a lot, but I still think 300km or range vastly exceeds 95%+ of use cases.

Even 100km of range will cut it, especially with charging at place of work.

For long distance travel, rent an ICE and put the wear and tear on someone else’s vehicle.


While I agree with your post in a rational sense, people don't buy their vehicles that way. They buy SUVs for their daily commute, because a few times a year they like to go somewhere that AWD (or the extra storage space, or the extra ground clearance, or..) is useful.

> I know Americans can drive a lot, but I still think 300km or range vastly exceeds 95%+ of use cases.

For commutes, sure. But I know a lot of people (most?) who like to travel to the next city to see their parents (450km), or go camping/hiking/skiing (wilderness where chargers aren't common, 200km one way). A 300 km range wouldn't cut it for them (and a 100km range wouldn't be good for anything except daily commute).

Several of my family members have gotten plug-in hybrids - 40km range, but backed with a gas engine. That means their daily commute (or most of it, with winter weather range impact) is electric, and they have gas for when they want or need to go further (eg kids sports on the other side of the city).

I intend to buy an electric car, but probably not until my current yaris gives up the ghost. I'm willing to put up with the inconvenience of a 400km range, even though I regularly do a 1400km one-way drive, and filling up the battery with a supercharger will take about 15 hours instead of 13 with gas fills.


> charging at place of work

Already contention for chargers at my workplace.


”VW seem to sound most serious, aiming for 50 models by 2025, but what do they have now?”

https://jalopnik.com/the-fascinating-engineering-behind-vws-...:

”we’ve been hearing a lot of companies announcing lofty electrification plans like these, so what makes VW different? Well, they’ve at least got hardware to back up the talk. Here’s a look at what might be the platform that actually brings electric cars to the masses.

The MEB Platform

VW started designing the MEB platform—the company’s very first high volume EV architecture—about three years ago.”


Sure but all these makers would slow their efforts right down if Tesla were to go away. Now they're stuck between cannibalizing their ICE lineup or being entirely eaten by Tesla. If the predator leaves the scene they'll start twiddling their BEV thumbs.

I suspect there is too much momentum now. Most of Europe is desperate to get away from diesels because of the health problems they cause. Low emissions zones are popping up everywhere. The writing is on the wall for ICE vehicles.

I just want a plug-in plug-in hybrid kit for regular ICE cars.

Plug it into a port in your trunk and it takes over all electrical loads (roughly 10-15% of engine load, more when driving slowly), until empty.

Maybe it can also pre-A/C the car (are AC compressors electric yet? Other pumps are (coolant, power steering, brake assist and obviously fuel).


That's an interesting idea, you could take the load off the alternator to squeeze out a bit more fuel economy.

"Based on this observation, and our battery demand forecast, we expect the price of an average battery pack to be around $94/kWh by 2024 and $62/kWh by 2030."

Would very much like to know the assumptions and factors for the demand forecast. Will manufacturers keep up, or will there be under-supply, either of the batteries or any of the key components? Will the pricing of different battery technologies transpire at markedly different rates?


Now I'm annoyed that a high quality beefy 1.6kw ebike battery costs $900 shipped.

That must be with a small motor (500W or less). I can't find a decent ebike with a 750W+ motor for under $1200.

750W is the legal limit in the US, so the market for anything over that will be relatively small.

That's only partially true. The 750W limit applies to what you call an ebike as a seller, not your ability to sell it. Many companies ignore that law since it's not strictly enforced.

that's the price for the battery

How much kWh does such a battery store?

sorry should've put kwh not kw.

If you ride conservatively that's 80-100 miles on one charge


So will lithium batteries be able to scale to over 1 billion cars today in the world and other vehicles (trucks, buses, etc)?

What about the homes of almost 8 billion humans?

Will we go from peak oil to peak lithium?


In time, probably yes. But the life span of cars need to increase a lot because the advances in electric engines are minimal (efficiency is already very high), batteries are replaceable and there is no reason to design and build cars for an average lifespan of less than 25 years instead of the current ~ 15. That is a saving not just in money, but also in pollution caused by steel processing, transportation, etc.

Will steel production be able to scale to 1 billion cars? Or Rubber? Leather?

Maybe today's production levels don't support the wholesale replacement of every vehicle on the road over night, but there's no shortage of lithium in the world. It's just a matter of the market encouraging greater production, which will ramp up as demand for batteries increases.


With driverless cars coming our need for everyone to have at least one car will completely go away. I'm guessing we'd be looking at one car per family living in the same town!

Are the batteries being charged in the graphic at the top of the page? Where is it from?

I bought lithium stocks in 2017 and it has been an investment disaster.

Which stocks and why? Lithium is extremely plentiful, IIRC, and my impression is production could be easily ramped up, unlike Cobalt which is mostly from a handful of mines in the DRC.

Bit I still thought that the total volume of sales will be bigger, even if they maintain the price per ton. Apparently the price dropped.

Which leads to another interesting question, why is cobalt (or anything else) heterogeneously distrubuted in the earth’s crust? The answer is probably too long to explore here, but if anyone has a tldr, I’m listening.

Largest factor: the abundance of liquid water and associated chemical effects. Second largest factor: the existence of living organisms that also alter the chemical environment.

For example, lead sulfide is nigh-insoluble in water, so where water containing dissolved lead meets water containing dissolved sulfide, a concentrated ore body of lead sulfide (galena) can form. Sulfate anions are more common in Earth's natural waters than sulfide anions, but so-called sulfur reducing bacteria convert sulfate into sulfide as part of their respiratory cycle. That's an example of the biological contribution to ore body formation.

As an element in Earth's crust, lead is actually rarer than so-called rare earth elements like neodymium. But neodymium's aqueous chemistry doesn't offer such common opportunities for concentration as lead, so in practice useful ore bodies of lead are much more common than those of neodymium.

The lack of liquid water on other celestial bodies is why they don't form ore bodies like on Earth. On the Moon and Mercury, for example, one would expect to find no economically exploitable deposits of either lead or neodymium.


I bought lithium stocks in january 2019 and it has been great.

I ate a small stock of lithium and feel okay.

tldr anyone?

are there game changing inflection points likely within 5 years or is the key take away prices continue to fall fast?


My own personal conclusion is that electric car batteries are already at the price of an engine and auxiliary equipment (alternator, turbo, injection pump, gearbox) of an ICE, so the price of small electric cars should be ~ $10,000. We have SUV's that cost $10,000 built by Renault in Europe and $7,500 sedans, so a $10,000 electric city car is possible.

It's a fairly short and information-dense article. Just go read it.

Solid-state would be a game-changer, but mid- to late-2020s is about when that would come about.


>>just go read it.

Uh...no?

- There's nothing wrong with suggesting a tldr/summary post. You hear some here say they'd prefer every article had one.

- It's doesn't leach or degrade site comment quality. At least not if common sense is used to ask sparsely, and keep one's contribution to request ratio > 1.

- It can provide real benefit to the community. When was the last year one person could absorb the sum of all human knowledge, 17th century, or earlier?

I along with plenty of others most often do "just go read" the article here if it seems interesting. Plus a metric crap ton more from other sources. There's just not enough hours in the day. It's humanly impossible to fully read merely the subset of content that seems interesting.

None of that withstanding, thank you for adding the one liner sentence about the article in question. No sarcasm. I consider that beneficial in the same spirit, and it was appreciated.

The main point is concepts analogous to RTFM may have validity in certain contexts, but I don't believe HN is the best possible fit you could find for them.


I really hope hydrogen fuel cells take over at some point.

They will not, whole process from water to hydrogen to fuel cell to electricity is very inefficient. You only get 1/3 of input energy back (if you use 100kWh to make hydrogen, you get back from the fuel cell 35kWh)

Not to mention hydrogen is a massive pain to store, to transport, and to convert to electricity.

Hydrogen fuel cells aren't ever going to happen. [0] Power to weight sucks, energy to weight sucks, and safety sucks among other things. The supposed advantages over electric cars (infrastructure, range, refueling, longevity) don't exist, and at current rates of tech development won't ever exist. But the disadvantages (complexity, hydrogen storage, inefficiency) still do.

0: https://ssj3gohan.tweakblogs.net/blog/11470/why-fuel-cell-ca...




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