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EIA AEO2012 projects potential impacts of significant breakthroughs in battery technology

The US Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) Annual Energy Outlook 2012 (AEO2012) includes a High Technology Battery case that examines the potential impacts of significant breakthroughs in battery electric vehicle technology on the cost and price of all types of battery powered electric vehicles.

Relative to the Reference case, the prices of HEVs and PHEV10s (plug-in hybrids with 10-mile electric range) in the High Technology Battery case are 5% below the price in 2035. For PHEV40s (40-mile electric range), the price is 11% lower, and for the EV100 and EV200s (battery electric vehicles with 100- and 200-mile ranges, respectively), the prices are 13% and 30% lower, respectively.

If the major developments in battery system prices projected in the High Technology Battery case were to take place, the cost per kilowatt hour (kWh) to consumers of such battery storage drops to $135 by 2035, as opposed to $304 per kWh projected in the Reference case. These major battery developments include reducing the cost of battery and non-battery systems as well as solving battery life-cycle and overheating limitations, allowing total battery energy storage capacity to shrink.

Cost to consumers of battery storage in two AEO cases. Source: EIA. Click to enlarge.

As these breakthroughs occur, it is assumed that battery electric vehicle technology permeates into a wider range of vehicle size classes for passenger cars and light-duty trucks. Battery electric vehicles, excluding mild hybrids, grow from 3% of new light-duty vehicles (LDV) sales in 2013 to 24% in 2035 in the High Technology Battery case, compared with 8% in 2035 in the Reference case.

Although many breakthroughs in battery technology are possible, there are still several obstacles to greater market penetration of battery-powered vehicles, EIA notes:

  • Prices. Prices for battery electric vehicles, even by 2035 with the assumption of technology breakthroughs, are above those for conventional gasoline counterparts. However, many consumers may be willing to pay more for vehicles that have lower fueling costs.

  • Recharging times. Recharging times differ dramatically depending on the voltage of the outlet. Typical 120-volt outlets can take up to 20 hours for a full EV battery recharge; a 240-volt outlet can reduce the recharging time to about seven hours.

  • Efficiency gains by conventional gasoline vehicles. The increase in fuel economy for conventional gasoline vehicles and other types of alternative fuel vehicles decreases consumer refueling costs. This lower cost in turn will decrease the economic payback of electric drive train vehicles, reducing the difference in savings between conventional gasoline vehicles and battery-powered electric vehicles.


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