At a speech this week in Detroit, Energy Secretary Dr. Steven Chu made some very hopeful predictions about the electric car industry, namely that the cost of electric car batteries would drop by 70 percent by 2015 compared to 2008 prices.
Secretary Chu said that we were on track to see the cost of a battery for a plug-in hybrid EV with a 40-mile range drop to $3,600 by 2015 compared to $12,000 in 2008. By 2020, he said we would see that cost drop to $1,500, an 87.5 percent drop from 2008 prices.
What industry experts have been saying all along seems to be finally coming true. As manufacturing has ramped up and technology has advanced, the cost of EV batteries, the most expensive part of the vehicles, has dropped. Soon enough we'll hit a major turning point where EVs are less expensive to buy and own than conventional cars.
Secretary Chu also sees breakthroughs coming in batteries other than the current standard lithium-ion such as lithium-air, lithium-sulfur and different metal-air versions. The DOE is opening a new research lab later this year called the Energy Innovation Hub which will bring together scientists, engineers and experts on the business side of things to develop more advanced, quicker charging and longer lasting batteries that cost less. The lab will focus on developments that would bring about large leaps in performance that could be prototyped this decade, not on small incremental improvements.