MIT Study Finds EVs to Cost More Than Regular Cars Until 2030

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【Summary】MIT didn’t want to look past 2030 because battery price projections are uncertain beyond that and can be affected by new development and commercialization of battery technology.

Original Vineeth Joel Patel    Jan 08, 2020 6:00 AM PT
MIT Study Finds EVs to Cost More Than Regular Cars Until 2030

Price is one of the things that greatly separate electric vehicles from cars with internal combustion engines. Automakers haven't found a way to manufacture lithium ion batteries affordably yet, which results in expensive machines. Forget about Tesla, Jaguar, Audi, or Porsche, regular electric cars, like the Chevrolet Bolt, Hyundai Kona Electric, and Nissan Leaf are all pricier than similarly equipped cars with internal combustion engines. According to a recent study by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Energy Initiative, electric cars will be more expensive than regular cars for quite a few more years.

Prices Could Fall After 2030

A lot of automakers and companies have stated that electric vehicles will become cheaper as precious metals – which include cobalt and lithium – become easier to access and more readily available. Unfortunately, MIT's study doesn't feel the same way. The study, called Mobility of the Future, claims that electric cars with a range of at least 200 miles will continue to be $5,000 more expensive to manufacture than a similar vehicle with an internal combustion engine until 2030.

Battery prices, though, are expected to drop, as lithium-ion battery packs will decrease by roughly 50 percent from 2018 and 2030. By then, battery packs will cost roughly $124 per kWh. Currently, lithium-ion batteries range from $175 to $300 per kWh, so they'll need to come down by nearly $100 in the next decade.

Unfortunately, for electric vehicles to be priced similarly to cars with internal combustion engines, pricing for lithium-ion batteries will need to fall to $100 per kWh. According to MIT, that's not going to happen by 2030. So affordable EVs are still some way off in the distance.

High Prices Bring Low Running Costs

"If you follow some of these other projections, you basically end up with the cost of batteries being less than the ingredients required to make it. We see that as a flaw," claims the study.

While the news from MIT's study isn't good for EVs, the institute does claim that low operating costs will help a lot of consumers offset the high initial cost. Plug-in hybrids, hybrids, and electric cars all have lower operating costs than vehicles that are solely powered by internal combustion engines. With high prices set to stick around for electrified vehicles, consumers that are looking to have low operating costs may continue to choose them despite the high prices.

There is some good news, though. Manufacturers and companies pouring millions into introducing new EV technology might make a breakthrough by 2030. If that happens, and they find a way to reduce the cost of lithium-ion battery packs, it could result in more affordable electric cars. Until then, they're going to stay expensive.

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