July 24, 2012

Are EVs affordable in a Post Peak Oil world?


Consider the Prius C: it costs 2/3 as much as the average US new light vehicle($20k vs 30k), and uses 40% as much fuel. If oil prices tripled the cost of fuel per mile in a Prius C would still be no higher than the average US light vehicle. As best I can tell (based on Edmunds data), the C has the lowest total cost of ownership for any light vehicle.

Then, if we add $10k in batteries to the Prius C (20kWh, assuming a conservatively high cost per kWh for cells of $500), bringing the cost only up to that of the average US new light vehicle, we'd have a plug-in with an electric range of 60 miles (3 miles/kWh x 20kWh), reducing fuel consumption to less than 10% of the average US light vehicle. That's a scale small enough to be covered by solely by ethanol.

Electric vehicles of various sorts will work very well (though some people will have to wait for them to become available used). The only thing stopping them now is artificially low fuel prices.