Lux Research report squashes gov plug-in hopes. Conspiracy?
Is lithium-ion battery potential as capped as NiMH?
Lithium-ion batteries have been around for more than 30 years. While materials science, scale and other factors can impact lithium-ion prices, many experts believe that lithium-ion batteries will never result in plug-in vehicles that can challenge gas-guzzlers. For the most part, the government has agreed, but a price reduction to $150 kWh could help bring a lot more electric cars to market and the US Advanced Battery Consortium (USABC) is targeting 2020 for such a price.
However, a new report by Lux Research claims that battery prices will only hit $397/kWh in 2020, leaving many plug-in fans crying conspiracy.
Perhaps, there is a conspiracy against plug-in vehicles, but many lithium researchers and auto companies, such as Toyota and most other major automakers, have suggested that only next generation batteries can truly challenge the internal combustion engine. Otherwise, while lithium-ion prices might come down, automakers will still be left trying to make the claim that a 100 mile EV is equal to a 600 mile gas-guzzler. And I don’t believe that most mainstream consumers will buy that comparison.
But if lithium-ion prices are still stuck near $400 per kWh in 2020, it’s fair to question why there is so much hype around plug-in vehicles today.
On the other hand, some will point to recent battery announcements by Envia, which suggests that batteries could be as cheap as $180 kWh by 2018. While I think those are perfect world numbers that I’d bet won’t translate into the real world, I also think that $400 kWh sounds high, but maybe only because it’s so disappointing.
What I find most fascinating, however, is the conspiracy angle. So I’ve covered it in depth in The conspiracy against plug-in vehicles, but I’ll cut to the chase here. Why is a conspiracy against plug-ins even needed? All anyone against plug-ins needs is for consumers to simply keep acting the way they have been for decades. It’s not just technological breakthroughs that are needed, it’s a change in consumer psychology that is most necessary. Without dramatically changing consumer psychology, the idea that a plug-in revolution is being held back by a big-oil powered conspiracy is slick, but still a slippery slope of unneccesary nonsense.