Lux Analysts See Poor Prospects for Car Battery Improvement

If forecast is accurate, hybrid and electric cars may not take off any time soon

1 min read
Lux Analysts See Poor Prospects for Car Battery Improvement

Lux Research concludes in a new report that even with scaled up production and technology improvements, lithium ion batteries will still be delivering electricity to automotive powertrains at a cost of almost $400 per kilowatt-hour in 2020, far short of the U.S. Advanced Battery Consortium's 2020 target of $150 per kWh. According to a summary of the report, which is available only for a fee, Lux analysts closely considered the cost structure of Li-ion batteries and evaluated improvements in design and materials that seemed to have the potential to bring costs down sharply. They found that improved materials alone would not produce real breakthroughs. "Cathode improvements, along with increases to the state-of-charge window and reductions in capacity fade, are the surest route to cost decreases," the summary says.

As for alternatives to Li-ion, "each technology has its supporters – PolyPlus and IBM for Li-air, Toyota for Mg-ion, Sion Power and BASF for Li-S and Sakti3 for solid state batteries — but all face significant obstacles," a press release accompanying the report says.

If sound, the Lux report casts doubt on the claims of Envia Systems to have come up with a lithium-ion system that will deliver energy at a cost of $125 per kWh--a claim we raised some questions about in an earlier post.

 

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A worker works on the frame of a car on an assembly line.

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EVs have finally come of age. The total cost of purchasing and driving one—the cost of ownership—has fallen nearly to parity with a typical gasoline-fueled car. Scientists and engineers have extended the range of EVs by cramming ever more energy into their batteries, and vehicle-charging networks have expanded in many countries. In the United States, for example, there are more than 49,000 public charging stations, and it is now possible to drive an EV from New York to California using public charging networks.

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