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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We Need More Than Just Electric Vehicles

To decarbonize road transport we need to complement EVs with bikes, rail, city planning, and alternative energy

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

China has more EVs than any other country—but it also gets most of its electricity from coal.

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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.

With all this, consumers and policymakers alike are hopeful that society will soon greatly reduce its carbon emissions by replacing today’s cars with electric vehicles. Indeed, adopting electric vehicles will go a long way in helping to improve environmental outcomes. But EVs come with important weaknesses, and so people shouldn’t count on them alone to do the job, even for the transportation sector.

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