We hear it from all sides: the future is electric. According to the major governments around us, we should switch to the battery within a few years. That way of thinking already creates the necessary logistical issues and problems with regard to infrastructure, but in the discussion about the viability of EVs, one element is all too often forgotten: the hefty price tag.
Despite the fact that lithium-ion batteries have become more efficient and cheaper, you still pay a lot more for an electric car. For example, the cheapest EV in the Netherlands is the Volkswagen e-up!, with a base price of €23,475.
However, the same car with an old-fashioned three-cylinder is only €16,890, a difference of no less than €6585. Something has to be done to allow the EV to really integrate with the ‘ordinary people’.
Price drop is far away
They found that at Road & Track also. In an interview with Mercedes-Benz Chief Technical Officer Markus Schäfer, they tried to get an indication of when the electric car will become affordable. However, Schäfer had bad news:
“Going to a price of $50 per kilowatt, which would lead to a price comparable to an internal combustion engine, is a long way off I’d say. I don’t see that happening with today’s chemistry.”
The explosive growth of the EV sector in recent years has created a major problem. There is a chronic shortage of lithium. The rare metal has to be mined on a large scale to meet the new demand, but setting up new mining operations takes an enormous amount of time and money. For these reasons, Schäfer does not see prices falling any time soon:
“It’s looking into a crystal ball. It [dalen van de prijzen] will depend very much on the capacity of the mines and the global scale-up of the EV market. So those are the two big factors. But I would say we will see windfalls in the future as far as [het mijnen van] raw materials.”
Until the industry makes a real breakthrough with new, cheaper and more efficient battery packs without lithium, according to Schäfer, the price will remain about the same. The EV will therefore remain a relatively luxury product for the time being. With the ambitious European bans on the horizon, things look bad for the average Dutch person:
“The projected drop to well below $100 or Euros per kilowatt may take longer. The chemistry, frankly, if we stick with the ingredients we have today… then there’s no breakthrough in prospect. “