A few days ago Telsa claims that the cost of their battery packs is down to $190 per kwh. This should go down 30-50% when the Gigafactory reaches full production levels
Electric Vehicles, like virtually all other manufactured goods, are likely to have a learning curve, meaning that greater production will mean reduced price. Batteries, a large fraction of the cost of EVs, appear to have a learning rate of around 21%, meaning that every doubling of scale will reduce costs by 21%.
What about whole vehicles? The Ford Model T had a learning rate of around 16%. Letís use that for the entire vehicle, including the battery. That gives us a conservative estimate of the cost improvement rate.
Last year, EVs grew at around 60% annually, to around 1 million total EVs ever sold. Sources in China tell me they expect several hundred thousand EVs to be sold there in 2016 alone. Growth could easily be 60% again in 2016. Even so, growth will eventually slow. Bloomberg New Energy Finance expects 30% long term growth. Letís use that for now, to be conservative.
Those assumptions lead to a world where, by roughly 2030, EVs with a 200 mile range are cheaper than the cheapest car sold in the US in 2015.
On Cost-Per-Mile, EVs Win Even More
Electric vehicles, today, have lower total costs per mile than equivalent gasoline-powered vehicles, due to lower energy costs of electricity and the lower maintenance costs. At 30% growth rate, EVs will have roughly half the up-front cost of gasoline-powered vehicles in roughly 10-12 years, around 2027 or 2028. At that point, the total cost per-mile-driven of EVs will also be roughly half the cost of gasoline powered vehicles.
In 2014, Nextbigfuture had discussed the possibility of a battery singularity. The Battery singularity would be the electric car singularity as Ramez is also discussing. Batteries (and electric engines) that replace gasoline (and combustion engines) but at lower lifetime costs have the potential to completely replace combustion engines. I believe the costs will be brought down and the factory construction and scaling of the supply chain will take until about 2025. We could get to 10 million electric cars per year by about 2020 and then to 100 million by 2025.
This would likely mean that Tesla with its large lead in electric cars would likely be selling as many cars as Toyota now and possibly 2 to 3 times as many. This would be 10 to 30 million cars. Tesla would be worth $300 billion to $2 trillion depending upon the price earnings multiple.
Other Analysis of Battery and Electric Car Improvement and future costs
Jefferies analyst Dan Dolev predicts that Tesla battery costs could fall by 50%+ through the use of new battery chemistry and large scale production via the Gigafactory. Most industry observers have predicted that general acceptance of electric cars wonít happen until the $100 per kWh barrier broken.
Dolev estimates Teslaís current Model S battery cost to be $250 per kWh and thinks the company can drive costs down to $88 per kWh primarily through battery chemistry changes and economies of scale. A few days ago Telsa claims that the cost of their battery packs is down to $190 per kwh.
Teslaís use of an efficient nickel cobalt aluminum cathode (i.e. the positive electrode), use of a silicon synthetic graphene anode (i.e. the negative electrode) that has 2-6 times the lithium ion storage capacity of todayís standard graphite anode, and a possible use of water-based anode solvent, are key advantages.
Our analysis details a potential path to a 30% cell-level cost reduction to ~$88/kWh by using a more efficient lithium-rich nickel cobalt manganese cathode (vs. NCA), doubling the percentage of silicon in the synthetic graphene anode, replacing the liquid electrolyte with an ionic gel electrolyte which eliminates the need for a separator, and using a water-based electrode solvent for the cathode.
At $88 per kWh, a 60 kWh battery for the forthcoming Tesla Model 3 would cost $5,280. Thatís only a third of what the same battery would cost today and makes the prospect of an affordable electric car with at least 200 miles of range far more credible.
Is Dolev too optimistic? No one at Tesla Motors is promising anything close to his projection