Issue Date: December 21, 2009
Bumpy Road For Plug-In Vehicles
A report by the National Research Council finds that subsidies of "tens to hundreds of billions of dollars" will be needed over several decades to spur development and deployment of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV). Batteries and their cost are the problems, the report says, and the price of making a PHEV in 2010 could be as high as $18,000 more than an equivalent conventional vehicle mostly due to the cost of lithium-ion batteries. Battery technology has been developing rapidly, the report notes, but steep declines in cost are not likely to happen for a long time since the technology for lithium-ion batteries is rooted in the production of small batteries for cell phones and laptop computers. However, costs may come down with an unforeseen technological breakthrough, the report says. Costs for batteries for prototype vehicles with limited range are expected to be $3,300 for a PHEV vehicle with a 10-mile range and $14,000 for one with a 40-mile range. Still, the report predicts that as many as 13 million electric vehicles could be on the road by 2030 and that the nation's power grid could handle the added electricity demand if vehicles were charged at night when demand is low.
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