April 2, 2011

How much do batteries cost? - part 7.

I've been arguing for quite a while that battery costs, like the cost of any manufactured item, depend heavily on volumes. That means that any analysis of battery costs depends on the production volume that one assumes.

Here's an article that helps clarify that:

"One carmaker willing to share a number is Coda Automotive, a small California-based electric car startup. Dan Mosher, the company’s chief financial officer, also spoke at Electric Car 2.0. “The $375 price might be fiction, but it’s a fact that the costs are coming down quite dramatically. Today, we might still be around $1,000 to $1,200 per kilowatt-hour,” Mosher said. He expects the price to reach $375 per kilowatt-hour in the next five to 10 years.

Mosher cited advantages that Coda might have, because the company manufactures offshore (in China)—but that benefit pales to the advantage enjoyed by major carmakers. Nissan, by virtue of its joint venture with Japan’s NEC Corp., has decades of experience in mass-producing lithium ion batteries. The company is projecting first year global production of the Nissan Leaf at 50,000 units.

“Can somebody really build a vehicle where they pay $375 per kilowatt-hour in 2010, I would say that’s pushing it,” Duvall said. “What they may see is forward pricing and they know their 50,000th or 100,000th vehicle will have that pricing. There’s no physical reason, based on materials and price of production, why that can’t happen.

See the rest of the article: http://www.plugincars.com/electric-car-battery-costs-don%E2%80%99t-believe-what-you-read.html

16 comments:

Paul said...

I don't get it. They are talking $1000/kWh, yet you can go to any EVC conversion site and by the popular Thundersky or Skyenergy batteries for about $450/kWh, including the battery management system.

I am sure the OEM's are better quality, but more than double the price? These aftermarket types are well used and their performance reliability is known, while the OEM's refuse to reveal such data.

For the Skyenergy ones, a Leaf sized 24kWh pack would be $11k, the price from Coda implies $24k (on a $32k car) that just doesn't seem right.

I am still of the opinion that the Leaf is oversized and inefficient. I did a comparison here ( http://www.consumerenergyreport.com/boards/r-squared-blog-posts/will-range-anxiety-impact-electric-car-sales/#p9504) with the GM EV-1 of 1999, and the EV-1 wins on every performance aspect except number of passengers carried.

The problem is not the batteries, it is the overweight and overpowered cars that they are powering.

Nick G said...

I agree - there are a variety of sources for cells LiFeP04 cells for $350 to $400 per kWh. That's also consistent with statements from the suppliers for both GM and Nissan: they both say that the cells are about $350/kWh, and the battery management system costs about another $2,000.

The academic researcher discussed in the comments for the previous battery post suggested that Chinese batteries are subsidized, but he didn't expand on that.

rethin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

$9k for a replacement battery after 7.5 years is $1200/year. At 4 bucks a gallon that's 300 gallons of gas a year. A 30mpg car like the Corolla will drive 9,000 miles a year on that.

And that's before you have to pay off the price premium of a Leaf over a Corolla.

If this is good news in the EV world, I'd hate to see the bad.

Nick G said...

Rethin,

EVs are much cheaper to build and maintain.

The standard rule for replacing an EV battery is when it loses 20-30% of capacity, so the battery will either likely be usable much longer than 7.5 years, or it will have a trade-in value.

For these reasons, $9k would be perfectly affordable.

On the other hand, we should be clear: we can buy LiFeP04 batteries right now for $375, so aftermarket EV battery replacements are likely to be below $200 in 7.5 years. That would have a net cost of perhaps $3,500.

Of course, the cheapest option would be to simply add 5kWh of capacity, to compensate for the lost capacity. That would only cost about $1,000 (but might cost you a little trunk space).

Anonymous said...

"EVs are much cheaper to build and maintain."
You keep asserting this but offer no data to back this up.

"For these reasons, $9k would be perfectly affordable."
Except the numbers don't bear this out.
https://docs.google.com/leaf?id=0B12_i5_4pLufMGU2OWU5ZjUtODhmNC00NjkwLWE5YmMtMWQ3NTc0ZGUzNGUx&sort=name&layout=list&num=50

"On the other hand, we should be clear: we can buy LiFeP04 batteries right now for $375, "
the article you just quotes says otherwise.
"“The $375 price might be fiction, but it’s a fact that the costs are coming down quite dramatically. Today, we might still be around $1,000 to $1,200 per kilowatt-hour,” Mosher said. He expects the price to reach $375 per kilowatt-hour in the next five to 10 years.
"

Nick G said...

"EVs are much cheaper to build and maintain." - You keep asserting this but offer no data to back this up.

1st, do you really disagree?? EVs eliminate a lot of moving parts and support equipment - isn't it clear they'd be cheaper to build and maintain (apart from the battery)?

2nd, I'd love to find good data on the per-year maintenance costs of typical ICE vehicles, as well as good data on the maintenance costs of Corolla's (which aren't typical). Have you seen any?

3rd, I have presented evidence that ICE vehicles are more expensive to maintain - you just need to read my older posts:

http://energyfaq.blogspot.com/2009/05/do-electric-vehicles-cost-less-to.html

Anonymous said...

I'd like to see some data, some quantitative analysis to that effect. Otherwise is just asserting.

The simple fact is, even assuming a much cheaper battery than your article supports and assuming EVs have a built in maintenance savings, EVs just don't compete on price.

https://docs.google.com/leaf?id=0B12_i5_4pLufMGU2OWU5ZjUtODhmNC00NjkwLWE5YmMtMWQ3NTc0ZGUzNGUx&sort=name&layout=list&num=50

Re-run the numbers in that spreadsheet. Keep the maintenance savings assumed and change the battery price to $9k. Its pretty clear they can't compete on price let alone on utility.

Nick G said...

I'd like to see some data, some quantitative analysis to that effect.

Sure - the more the better.

Otherwise is just asserting.

Not really.

EV's have no transmissions, mufflers, tuneups (plugs, points, air filters), timing or other belts, carburetor, fuel pumps, engine coolant, valves, air filter, oil & oil filters, exhaust pipes or muffler, or catalytic converter. The engine has only one moving part, almost no internal friction, and is likely to last forever. Brake costs are greatly reduced.

Wouldn't all of this likely reduce maintenance costs by roughly 75%?

Car manufacturers and dealers think so:

http://www.businessinsider.com/dealers-nervous-about-electric-cars-2009-5

"Car dealers are nervous a shift from gas to electric cars will mean that they don't see their customers as often as they currently do.

The design of the electric car is really simple. There's not a lot of parts, so there won't be much need for maintenance says Mark Perry, Nissan (NSANY) Americas' head of Product Planning. "

----------------

I know you're trying to make a larger point about EV costs (a point on which we disagree), but let's try to settle one thing at a time - namely, maintenance.

Nick G said...

Has anyone seen good data for car maintenance costs?

I'd like to find detailed data that shows cost per year, over say 20 years, by year, for our familiar, conventional internal combustion engine vehicles. A breakdown by component would be nice, to allow a good comparison between new and old cars and ICEs and EVs.

I'd like to find averages for broad categories, like compact cars, family cars, SUV's, etc. That would do. AAA provides a little information like that, but it's just for the first 5 years of ownership, and the quality of the data is poor.

Anonymous said...

Dealers are upset because EVs don't have the periodic maintenance of ICEs. Namely oil changes.

Note oil changes are not a serious maintenance cost. But they are a serious relationship builder. Hence dealers are nervous.

"EV's have no transmissions, mufflers, tuneups (plugs, points, air filters), timing or other belts, carburetor, fuel pumps, engine coolant, valves, air filter, oil & oil filters, exhaust pipes or muffler, or catalytic converter. "

Everything else you listed is either a very small maintenance cost or zero maintenance cost. Modern transmissions are practically maintenance free.
Tuneups are un-needed on modern ICEs. Belts are a minor and infrequent cost. Modern cars don't have carburetors. Fuel pumps last nearly the lifetime of a car and are not a huge cost to replace. Engine coolant is cheap. Air filters are cheap. Catalytic convertors are a zero maintenance item.


You need some hard data to back up your assertions. What you have presented so far is far from compelling.

Take a look at this spread sheet. It assumes a significant maintenance advantage for an EV and yet EVs still are not cost competitive.

https://docs.google.com/leaf?id=0B12_i5_4pLufMGU2OWU5ZjUtODhmNC00NjkwLWE5YmMtMWQ3NTc0ZGUzNGUx&sort=name&layout=list&num=50

But your post was about EV battery costs. And even your most optimistic data shows battery costs will make EVs cost prohibitive. Maintenance costs don't even come close to narrowing that gap.

Funny how you concentrate the argument on the one aspect you are lacking hard data on.

Nick G said...

Rethin,

I understand that you're angry that I like EVs. Nevertheless, please don't bring your anger here. If you feel that EVs (or advocacy of them) are harmful, please give me a good dispassionate argument. Otherwise... please meditate, talk to a good friend, write in a journal, pray, or somehow take it somewhere else.

ok.

So, you don't feel that modern cars have any significant maintenance costs? I'd love to see some numbers. I have some estimate from AAA that suggest otherwise - I'll give them tomorrow. Unfortunately, they're not broken down by year of car-part, but they're a beginning.

I agree - hard data would be great. On the other hand, if you want to disagree with me, you really should start bringing some of your own.

Regarding the spreadsheet - I don't see maintenance costs there.

Regarding battery costs - I was talking about aftermarket li-ion batteries. They're available right now for $375/kWh. Take a look at some of the EV conversion sites for battery prices.

Regarding concentration on the area where I don't have data: that's exactly why I'm concentrating on it! I'd like the data - got any?

Nick G said...

Rethin,

Please feel free to post comments when you feel up to having a civil conversation.

As a courtesy, I will address the points in your last comment:

The Mosher quote is about OEM full-system pricing. The price I was talking about most recently was for aftermarket battery cells - they aren't the same. See Paul's comments, and look at battery pricing on EV sites, such as this one: http://evhelp.com/

Your spreadsheet doesn't break out fuel costs vs maintenance. So, fuel savings of only $1,000? That seems puzzling - with gas at $3.65, a Corolla at 29 EPA combined MPG will cost $1,888 per year, while a Leaf will cost about $550, for a difference of $1,333.

As for asking you to provide evidence - this isn't a high school debate, where we score points by technical achievements (like finding an error such as an obsolete maintenance item). I hope that we're actually trying to figure something out here. So, asking you to provide information only makes sense.

Take a look at the AAA driving costs calculations at http://www.aaaexchange.com/Assets/Files/201048935480.Driving%20Costs%202010.pdf

They calculate maintenance costs of 4.21 cents/mile, or $632 per year for 15k miles. That's $6,320 over 10 years - hardly trivial.

Now look at the description of the maintenance costs on pages 10 and 11: almost all go away with an EV: Fluids, Air Filter, Belts, Hoses. It looks to me like routine maintenance costs should drop by at least 75%.

Anonymous said...

If you are just going to delete my posts why should I bother?

You obviously can't have an honest debate.

Disappointing really.

Nick G said...

Rethin,

If you want to have an "honest debate", then just have a normal, friendly conversation - I don't think anyone wants to read comments that are aggressive and negative.

Also, bring new information (either ideas or data)to the conversation, rather than just disagreeing.

I am curious, though - why so negative? Are you concerned that EVs will support "business as usual"? I would disagree - fossil fuels in general, and oil in particular, is BAU.

I'm certainly not suggesting complacency. I think fossil fuels in general, and oil in particular, cause enormous harm, and should be replaced ASAP.

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