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Consortium seeks to show total cost of EVs can be less than combustion engine reference car

EVs for use by Michelin and Siemens staffers in the project. (Photo: Sandra Göttisheim) Click to enlarge.

Michelin and Siemens, in cooperation with research partners at Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) and the Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research ISI, are launching a project to demonstrate that the total cost of electric vehicles can be less than that of a conventional combustion-engined car. In January 2013, the consortium was promised funding by Germany’s Federal Ministry of Transport, Building, and Urban Development (BMVBS) under the Baden-Württemberg LivingLab BWe mobil showcase project.

The three-year, nearly €2-million (US$2.6 million) project will be funded by the BMVBF and the project partners at a ratio of 50:50.

Michelin and Siemens staff commute frequently between their German and French facilities in conventional vehicles. However, an electric vehicle may ultimately prove to be less expensive, even given the higher initial purchase cost, as every kilometer driven electrically costs less than driving on gasoline or diesel fuel.

Under the project, electric vehicles will be used by Michelin staff commuting from Alsace to the Michelin factory in Karlsruhe. Siemens staff members will use an electric instead of a gasoline-based vehicle for their trips between the factories in Karlsruhe and Haguenau, France (about 65 km, 40 miles). In both cases, utilization of the vehicles is planned to be increased, such that the electric vehicle will be less expensive than the reference car with a combustion engine at the end of the project.

If electric mobility is to be successful in Europe, it has to be economically efficient. We are looking for applications in which electric vehicles are cheaper than a reference car with a combustion engine. If the vehicle is used often, costs can be reduced considerably and the high purchasing price is compensated.

—Dr. Olaf Wollersheim, head of the RheinMobil showcase project at KIT

Reaching the project objectives will require smart operation strategies for the vehicles, charging stations at the right places, and driver education, the partners said. Fraunhofer ISI and KIT have already studied user expectations and commercialization obstacles and know that factors such as high costs, small ranges, and limited availability of charging infrastructure deter people from using electric vehicles.

A new company—e-MotionLine—established by KIT graduates will supply vehicles for the project.

We take care of the selection of economically most efficient vehicles, coordinate the charging infrastructure, and train the users in using this new technology.

—Max Nastold, managing director of e-MotionLine

For the recharging infrastructure, the RheinMobil partners will cooperate closely with the CROss-border Mobility for EVs (CROME) project funded by several German and French ministries.

In April 2012, the federal government selected four regions in Germany as “electric mobility showcases”. In these regions, research and development of alternative drive trains are funded according to the decision made by German parliament. The RheinMobil project is one of about 40 projects in the Baden-Württemberg “LivingLab BWe mobil” electric mobility showcase.

In the Baden-Württemberg “LivingLab BWe mobil” showcase, more than 100 partners from industry, science, and public institutions are studying electric mobility in practice. The projects concentrate on the region of Stuttgart and the city of Karlsruhe. The projects address aspects of intermodality, fleets, commercial transport, infrastructure and energy, urban and traffic planning, vehicle technology, communication, and participation as well as training and qualification. “LivingLab BWe mobil” is coordinated by the State Agency for Electric Mobility and Fuel Cell Technology e-mobil BW GmbH and the Stuttgart Regional Economic Development Corporation (WRS).



What is holding EVs back from broad acceptance is the poor range performance and high cost of the batteries, period. Until a low-cost, high density, lighter battery is available and in wide spread use, we will continue to read article of this nature attempting to justify their use.


With batteries performance going up and their price going down, there are no reasons why future e-vehicles would not cost less to buy and much less to operate than their ICEVs equivalent.

The perceived price difference will progressively disappear in favor of future BEVs.

With few exceptions, ICEVs are on their way out.

Future cars and small trucks will be electrified. Future large trucks, inter-city buses, locomotives and heavy machinery will use improved FCs.


@ HarveyD

Prices on EVs will only come down if a new battery chemistry is developed which makes use of cheaper materials and lends itself to less costly production methods. Lithium Ion will never cut it.

@ Lad

Couldn't agree with you more. It's high time this Consortium and all other groups involved in studies of this nature realize "It's the Battery Stupid". That has been the one issue since the turn of the last century when EVs first hit the roads and were subsequently displaced by ICEVs. Enough of the studies already!


Much self-righteous indignation accompanies any privately funded effort to promote the use of ICEVs over EVs today.

What apoplexy would result if the government funded a program to demonstrate that the total cost of conventional combustion-engined cars is less than electric vehicles.

@ HarveyD

The perceived price difference MAY progressively disappear in favor of future BEVs.

With few exceptions, over the last 15 years, ICEVs have made greater strides in increasing fuel efficiency than battery powered vehicles.

Electrified cars and small trucks have remained available for 100 years, but acceptance has been minimal (even in the last 15 years).

Future cars, small trucks, large trucks, inter-city buses, locomotives and heavy machinery will most likely make much greater use of alternate technologies to reduce or eliminate oil consumption.


BEVs are not ready yet, may not be the long term solution and there is no consensus on charger standards. Seems premature to roll out charging infrastructure. My hunch is that since companies want the standard they use adopted they have lobbied to get chargers installed now so that the decision of which standard is a fait accompli.

They talk about the BEV being cost competitive. Bet they are not adding the cost of maintaining the roads (via fuel tax) to the BEV cost.
"We are looking for applications in which electric vehicles are cheaper than a reference car with a combustion engine": that surely would be a stop-start city journey rather than a highway trip.

I'm not against or for BEV but get annoyed when they overshadow more useful options. Target HEV and battery development and BEV will come if it is justified.


What/who is stopping this years old battery:

" And as for durability, DBM said the KOLIBRI battery’s lifespan should be 10 years, or 5,000 charge cycles. Recharge time for a version like the one that went 284.3 miles might be only four minutes or so.

But what would it cost? An estimated price for a (larger) 98.8-kWh version was a paltry $1,100-$1,400 (€800-€1,000)."

German government lab tested and monitored by


With fuel costs often being the major operational cost (if many miles are driven) electric vehicles can save money.

However, electric rates can rise, and this variable changes the equation markedly. I pay 12c/Kwh below 1000KWH/month. 18c above that rate. Those living in other locations pay 30c/Kwh. Huge difference. If power cost that much in certain locations, it's a fair bet it could rise to that level everywhere.


Its a lot more marketing and demographics than you think.
It never ceases to amaze me that environmentalists continue to shoot themselves in the foot by thinking that people will buy because of studies like this. People buy because they are investing in something that makes their life better. They are less likely to buy or are part of a small minority of ideologues if they are being preached to or told it is the right thing to do. There are a lot fewer people than one would believe, irrespective of whatever simplistic polls you can find or inciteful blogs you read, that people will invest in a vehicle because it saves the earth or cuts dependency on foreign oil. Really. All other factors being equal and necessary, an EV won't win because of ethics or values. If it is not better that the current, it will not win -not even heavily subsidized. Not in the US. Which brings us to marketing and demographics. What these EV companies should be doing is targeting middle and upper-middle class people who fundamentally buy SUVs. Battery weight and price sensitivity is less of an issue with them. They are the early adopters, the non-enviro partisans, the consumers that push us beyond mediocrity. Get range extenders and sell them on the 'rarely have to fill up again at an inconvenient gas stations during your daily commute' and 'power up on your own time' messages out there and you'll be selling EV Escalades far faster than volts or the other nonsense. Convenience and comfort over ethics always. always. It is the most delicious irony that the saviors of the world will actually be those who care about it least, the McMansion owners with their heavy vehicle fleets. Imagine the Escalade pulling up beside the hybrids and limited PHEVs, and then being able to say that their vehicle is completely EV powered and that they have not used (personally, not grid) any fossil fuels (and may have on-site renewables). Watch the dirty hippies cringe for it is no longer them that have the higher moral ground. Technology acceptance is in the hands of the monied. The trickle down effect of course is that smaller vehicles - for the huddling masses - will then be available, as SUVs will make up the majority of the auto industry profit margin (hey, just like in the late 90's and early 00's). Just like super successful Apple - sell the lifestyle.


There are 101+ ways to promote electrified vehicles (HEVs, PHEVs and eventually BEVs and FCEVs) starting with:

1. Progressively stop subsidizing Oil, NG-SG and Coal.

2. Apply a progress meaningful emission fee/tax on all fossil fuels and ICEVs, NG and coal fired power plants.

3. Subsidize (for a limited time - 15 years max) the production and distribution of Clean Electricity.

4. Finance a huge ($150+B) R&D storage units project to arrive at 5/5/5 by or before 2020/2022.

5. Subsidize, for a limited time (10 years max), the initial lower cost storage units mass production.

6. Finance a huge ($50+B) R&D to develop ultra light, low cost, vehicle body and e-ancillaries.

7. Subsidize, for a limited time (10 years max), the initial lower cost mass production of ultra light car bodies and e-ancillaries.

8. Initiate a progressive income tax change based on a flat 30%, applied at source on ALL REVENUES. Remove ALL LOOPHOLES, Compensate the lower and middle classes with allowances.

In other words, the decision making has to progressively move from the 3% to the 97% to be able to come up with essential national programs and real democracy.



para 2) should read instead of progress...


@cujet, use falling solar power prices

@Jer, like GM, push those SUVs, convert your Hummer to EV, and "Watch the dirty hippies cringe..".

Kit P

“With fuel costs often being the major operational cost ”

That is what is called a mutually exclusive assumption. Since BEV have very limited range, you can not drive a lot.

“it's a fair bet it could rise to that level everywhere. ”

Not really! The cost of making 95% of power is under 5 c/kwh. What you are seeing is hidden taxes.

“use falling solar power prices ”

Solar city does not tell you what it costs to make power. Solar city is a scam and those who think I am wrong may want to have thier attorney review the contract before you sign away your house.


@Kit P, since Walmart alone has over a hundred stores with SolarCity, it's likely their lawyers reviewed the contract before 'signing away the corporation'(and their jobs..

Kit P

If Walmart wants to greenwash as a marketing tool that does not suggest anything about the cost of solar. I look forward to the day that kelly provides a spreadsheet showing the cost of solar. maybe an MBA could do that.


@Kit P, I've given you 45 minutes of pro-nuclear video you were to lazy to watch over six minutes of.

Add these SolarCity 'greenies' to your "Walmart wants to greenwash" world(same link):
Walmart 100+ Locations Watch Video
CA, AZ, NM, OR — 9 Locations
King Estate Winery
Eugene, OR — 947 kW
San Jose, CA — 650 kW
Lancaster, CA — 617 kW
Heritage Paper
Livermore, CA — 528 kW etc.

It's disgusting to think utility customer over-billings finance your cumulative ignorance, salary, and potential pension.


@kelly: well, i'm not an SUV driving or middle-class (yet) person myself, but the world needs a shake-up when they think that the typical $50k american family will have 'saving the earth' as anywhere on their radar when buying a new vehicle. Every new successful disruptive technology has almost always come from above - high income, early adopter types. They take risks. They want to be first. Let them. Autos are no different than mid-to-high-end entertainment systems or powerful personal computers in their selling demographic targets. I have no personal concern if 80% of all high-range EVs are $60k+ or $700/month lease for the first five years of roll-out as long as they're well-engineered and reliable. Why try to sell to everyone when the majority of engineering problems have to do with it making it on the low-end of the buyer scale - weight, pack placement, cycle expectations, etc. Those are economy-people concerns. Trying to be politically correct or popular with EV roll-out is just killing it. Further, I find it amusing to no end that many of the people on this blog get so concerned with irrelevant concepts like energy density, per kWh costing, etc. When driving styles and lifestyle concerns are so variable as to make such concepts irrelevant even with the same person driving for many different reasons (commute vs. chores vs trip). Even battery range concerns disappear when you get to F150 and full-size SUV weights. The Tesla X will be a greater bell-weather for right-demographic introductions: Later this year, maybe?


... continued - 'high-end purchasers should be targeted first'
I think if 30% of the top 10% (income) of american drivers bought a high-end fully-electric SUV/ pick-up-equivalent in the first 5-7 years from their early 2014 availability, that would be almost 10 million bought - very successful EV penetration in my opinion. Sorry regular people, the health of the industry depends on you waiting. Ask not for EVs to be made affordable for you, but what you can do to afford a quality EV (paraphrased, as you might have noticed).


Jer, one passenger use SUVs and 15 mpg pickups don't help anyone and the SUV master went bankrupt, costing each taxpayer $100's in bailouts.

"I find it amusing to no end that many of the people on this blog get so concerned with irrelevant concepts like energy density, per kWh costing, etc." SO, ok - Green Car Congress is not your 'cup of tea'.


kelly: I am sympathetic to your concerns about inefficient lifestyle choices, but the reality is that the US will never be Europe, they don't want to be, and we can wish all we want that people will make 'easy' and 'world-friendly' efficiency choices - the low hanging fruit, as it were. But these choices don't appear to make people happy with all their extra disposable income. I believe that we need to accept that and optimize people's choices rather than remove those choices in 'their own best interest'. A happy, productive citizen doing the not-quite-right thing is more useful than the uninspired and marginally productive enviro-hero, in the sense of getting policies done and technology implemented. Sad truism.
In regards to the SUV bail-out, well, i am not an american - though i have lived off and on there for years, so i don't know all the details short of poor future demand planning on the car makers. Poor business decisions, poor risk management. who knows?

In regards to irrelevant concepts -- no, no. please don't stop with these analytical conversations. I am an engineer myself - though not mechanical. This fine tuning and detailed discussion is very interesting, but to think for a second that it has real world 'selling' value or that it covers all relevant assumptions is probably naive. I often wish that there was more than the few percent of technically-minded people that would consider such information in their life choices. Carry-on noble GCC, carry on!


Tesla Model S has 1,000s more reservations than high end MB S class or BMW 7 series autos, but not sure about an 'S' pickup truck market.

The lowly $28,000 Leaf seems already viewed as 'too expensive' and 'high end'. Folks forget ~80,000 miles of gasoline is included - electricity cost relative to gas - however many tens of $thousands in years of future fuel hikes.

There is also ~10 EV moving parts maintenance vs ICE $thousands.


See how an EV can do a number on the consumer and taxpayer both - when it is used as a Taxi; an almost ideal application to take advantage of the EMPG.

GreenCarCongress sidebar
"Osaka's great EV taxi experiment does a slow burnout. Japan Today."


@TT, I read the article last week and wondered:

How many average "stop n' go"/taxi city miles were driven?
Simple missing info, why.

"..that two drivers share the same vehicle in two 12-hour shifts, an average cab being used to pull double shifts could rack up 93,600 miles in a year or more."

Think an ICE taxi DOESN'T need maintenance(oil, transmissions, exhaust, etc, etc..) in the $1,000s?

The battery is about the only maintenance an EV drive train can have.

"..warranty will "protect against capacity loss in LEAF batteries that fall below nine bars, of the available 12 bars displayed on the vehicle’s battery capacity gauge [so around 70%], for the first five years or 60,000 miles in the United States, whichever comes first. For LEAF vehicles whose batteries have fallen below nine bars during this period, Nissan will repair or replace the battery under warranty with a new or remanufactured battery to restore capacity at or above a minimum of nine bars."

There is a reason most auto makers don't warranty taxis.


I suspect the Osaka taxi drivers never shut off the engine, may not start again, cost lots of $$.. its ok when a taxi ride mounts up over $100 easily


@TT, you might note

The Sonata Li-ion hybrid battery is warrantied "forever".

No matter how many million miles or how many ICE engines burn up - the Li-ion battery will work or be replaced.

Show me your forever ICE engine warranty.

I often wonder how you anti-EV/anti-electricity people get on the electric internet or what you use for non-electric TVs, appliances, cell phones, etc..


I suppose you are right;

an ICE taxi DOES need maintenance(oil, transmissions, exhaust, etc, etc..) in the $1,000s?

They should be going broke using ICEVs also; do you think they are, and just don't know it?

We "anti-EV/anti-electricity people" get on the electric internet and use electric TVs, appliances, cell phones WITHOUT the taxpayers giving us a rebate, because these things are fiscally rational, as are we.

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