Battery Cost Could Hinder Electric Car Sales

December 11, 2017

Battery prices need to drop by more than half before electric vehicles will be competitive with cars powered by internal-combustion engines, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. That is likely to happen by 2026, when the cost for lithium-ion battery packs could fall to about $100 per kilowatt-hour, speakers at the Shanghai Future of Energy summit said.






















The Tech Race


The focus of the industry has moved from lithium-ion batteries using liquid electrolytes to solid-state ones, which address the need for safer and more powerful energy storage. Toyota Motor Corp. has said it is working to commercialize the technology in the early 2020s, and Dyson Ltd. says it will build an electric car using solid-state batteries in three years. Dyson plans to invest one billion pounds ($1.3 billion) to develop the car, plus the same sum to create solid-state batteries for it. That investment would outpace those made by other major electric vehicle makers.


Major Players


Panasonic Corp. of Japan, BYD Co. of China and South Korea’s LG Chem Ltd. are the top manufacturers of lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. Shares in companies such as lithium-salt maker Stella Chemifa Corp. and Sociedad Quimica y Minera de Chile SA, which mines chemicals including lithium, are on the rise.
























As demand rises for metals used in batteries, beneficiaries include companies such as Japan’s Tanaka Chemical Corp., which manufactures and sells components for the storage devices.























Cost Projections


The average cost of cars powered by fossil fuels is about $28,000, a figure that will probably rise to about $30,000 by 2030, based on estimates by Bloomberg New Energy Finance. To become inexpensive enough to replace that fleet, electric vehicles will rely on a 67 percent drop projected for battery costs in the next nine years.























Fuel Cells


Clean-car development is not just about plug-ins. Fuel cells such as those used in hydrogen-powered vehicles are slowly making an advance in China, which recently made an about-face in policy to support the technology. The government opened a number of fuel-cell components to foreign investments, while taking electric vehicle battery cells and cathodes off the list. The move on batteries squeezes out competition in China from companies based outside the country.


Watanabe, Chisaki. (2017). “Why Battery Cost Could Put the Brakes on Electric Car Sales”. Retrieved from

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