Thursday, May 6, 2010

Electric Car Battery Costs, Don�"t Believe What You Read

Nissan Leaf Battery Pack

A cutaway of the Nissan Leaf reveals the vehicle's 24-kilowatt-hour battery pack.

If you want to know when electric cars are within reach of everyday car shoppers, keep your eye on the cost of batteries. According to projections from the Department of Energy and others, the tipping point for mainstream adoption of electric vehicles is around $350 per kilowatt-hour. That�"s why electric car enthusiasts took notice when the Times of London reported last month that the cost of the 24 kilowatt-hour battery pack in the all-electric Nissan Leaf, due out later this year, is $9,000�or $375 per kilowatt-hour.

Is it time to cue Kool & the Gang and pop open the champagne? Not quite, say a number of experts�including some leading EV advocates.

Trade Secrets

First, they question how anybody can report a number because the carmakers consider battery cost figures to be top secret. �SFor the auto companies, it�"s the most tightly guarded data. They take their cost information and lock it away in Fort Knox,⬝ said Mark Duvall, director of electric transportation at the Electric Power Research Institute. He was speaking yesterday at Electric Car 2.0, a clean technology conference in San Francisco.

Pinpointing the price is complicated further by the various stages of battery production. �SYou always have to ask is $375 the cell number or the system number,⬝ Duvall said.

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