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Lithium-Ion Costs At Heart of Cheap Electric Vehicles

Electric Car Battery 1Tesla Motors is busy taking the world by storm with their high-power, all-electric vehicles like their famous Roadster or the new Model-S, which is already on sale in some areas of the country. But where a lot of people have hang ups in regards to the new startup is the price of their vehicles, and what you get for what you pay. For instance, the Model-S, with a 65 kilowatt/hour engine, still runs $68,710; the 85 kWh costs $83,760. These aren’t cheap prices, even when it comes to something as prominent as an automobile, and it means that the price for Tesla’s all-electric lithium-ion batteries is roughly $30,000 alone. Naturally, technology takes time for prices to lower – remember Blu-Ray players, and how expensive they were? Now, you can get one for $40 at Walmart. Chances are that electric cars likely won’t fall to $40, but they can fall the automobile-equivalent: in other words, $30,000 for a single battery is way too high, and prices are indeed going to drop. It’s just going to take time.

Several companies are already working on ways to lower the costs for lithium-ion batteries, like Sakti3, an independent company that manufactures batteries for General Motors and whose startup costs were bankrolled by GM Ventures, the capital investment arm of the automaker. Other companies, such as Nissan and Panasonic, are also working to advance lithium-ion technology; the latter has already invested $92 million into a new gigafactory that will supply Tesla Motors with upwards of 500,000 batteries by the end of the decade. The former, meanwhile, has already put out their all-electric Nissan Leaf, albeit with their own in-house battery. This is sort of how it goes with new technologies; as time goes on, more people want a slice of the pie, and as patents expire and corporate espionage is waged more and more people start working on ways to improve existing technology. This, in turn, helps to bring about cheaper prices and better services, not to mention wider availability. It has happened with every major technological innovation since the dawn of mankind (or at least money, because money is important), and the lithium-ion batteries that power electric cars are just one more.

This could mark the real beginning of the end in terms of alternative-energy and what’s going to power the cars of the future. We’ve discussed this subject several times, usually on this segment of our blog, because these are important issues that can have lasting impacts not just on the automotive world, but on all the other little things that are connected to it. Take auto transport, for instance – few people really see the connections between Tesla Motors and Joe’s Auto Transport from Toledo, but believe it or not they’re there. Right now, Joe is spending way too much money on diesel fuel, probably dreaming about the day he doesn’t have to pay for it anymore. He may be dreaming of retirement, but what Joe doesn’t realize is that there’s an entire industry built around not having to pay for fuel (among the many, many reasons why we need to make the switch from gasoline to electric [or any alternative energy, really; hydrogen would work too]), and that industry is busy trying to make his life that much easier.

With more companies working on advancing the lithium-ion technology, it’s not that much of a stretch to imagine someone putting in a lithium-ion battery with a long range into an auto transportation truck, or some other type of commercial hauler. It really doesn’t matter, because once the cab of the truck is built it’ll be imitated by almost every long-haul truck manufacturer, and that includes those that built auto transport trucks. As time goes by, more and more people are going to see the benefits of shipping their goods with a diesel-free company, and it’s going to revolutionize the way that we drive and commute every day, from the single guy in his Corolla to the commercial driver with ten cars on the back of his truck. It’s going to take time – it always does when it comes to new technologies – but the wait is going to be worth it.

Dave Armstrong
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