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07-28-2010, 06:57 AM   #1
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Why do electric cars cost so much?

Does anyone know why the new electric cars cost so much? GM is asking $41,000 and Nissan $32,000. Nissan's car seems to have the basic capability of the GM EV-1 from 1999. I would think that hooking up an electric motor and some batteries would be a lot simpler than tweaking an internal combustion engine to the Nth degree. GM's car has the cost of both technologies, but it seems like Nissan could do better than that.

07-28-2010, 07:11 AM   #2
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Forget the car cost, the replacement battery will kill yah

That new Volt cost $41 000, battery replacement $31 000

I suppose they will call it the "disposable" car, just buy a new one when the battery runs out.
07-28-2010, 07:12 AM   #3
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The upfront cost is going to make it difficult for EVs to gain traction but the basic thing is that it cost a lot more to build the "tank" for an EV out of lithium and sophisticated electronics than it does to make it for a ICE out of plastic and a fuel sensor.

You could think of it like you are buying 5-10 years worth of future contracts for fuel that locks in a price at $0.90/gallon (if you were to compare the EV to a similar ICE car which got 30 MPG).

Even then, these first generation vehicles are a bit overpriced and I think you can blame that on two main things economies of scale as production ramps up and price skimming.
07-28-2010, 07:13 AM   #4
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Batteries are the major cost. Expensive metals are used in efficient batteries and that's the major cost. But you also have smaller runs and tooling costs to get started compared to using tooling and technology in use for decades in some cases.

07-28-2010, 07:17 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by GeneV Quote
Does anyone know why the new electric cars cost so much? GM is asking $41,000 and Nissan $32,000. Nissan's car seems to have the basic capability of the GM EV-1 from 1999. I would think that hooking up an electric motor and some batteries would be a lot simpler than tweaking an internal combustion engine to the Nth degree. GM's car has the cost of both technologies, but it seems like Nissan could do better than that.

yes, an electric motor and some batteries, you mean like this?

this is a home made solution if you're that strapped for cash

English Russia Russian Self-Made Electric Car

you seem to underestimate the engineering behind an electric car that can seat 4, accelerate at any noticeable speed and hit 150 on the interstates.
07-28-2010, 07:23 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by Clicker Quote
Forget the car cost, the replacement battery will kill yah

That new Volt cost $41 000, battery replacement $31 000

I suppose they will call it the "disposable" car, just buy a new one when the battery runs out.
The battery has an 8 yr/100K mile warranty on it. I also think that by the time batteries for EVs start to "die" there will probably be a robust secondary market for them in the form of stationary backup power. For a vehicle the reliability and KwH/kg is of paramount importance but for stationary uses, like storing excess power generated at night by a nuclear or wind power source for use during the day, KwH/sqft is more important and reliability isn't a deal breaker. So when the battery can't hold enough charge to get you from point A to point B or deliver enough current to accelerate properly, you might be able to sell it to your power company because it will still outperform most alternatives on the KwH/sqft.

If they price the batteries like they do other OEM equipment for cars they probably will cost $31,000; hopefully they will have enough sense to lower their margins on these.
07-28-2010, 07:25 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by Clicker Quote
Forget the car cost, the replacement battery will kill yah

That new Volt cost $41 000, battery replacement $31 000

I suppose they will call it the "disposable" car, just buy a new one when the battery runs out.
It seems like the GM solution is the worst of both worlds. You schlepp around a gas engine, tank and generator in addition to the batteries.

The perfect may be the enemy of the good, here. It seems that there are battery technologies that have been proven and that are being manufactured in volume which could be used. The Tesla uses computer cells. Somehow, with 1999 battery technology, the EV-1 managed to have almost exactly the same range as the Nissan Leaf.

Where is Toyota in this? A Prius is not too far off the Volt in its technology. It just needs a bigger battery. Replace the gas engine with a bigger battery and a charger.
07-28-2010, 07:28 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by mikemike Quote
The battery has an 8 yr/100K mile warranty on it. I also think that by the time batteries for EVs start to "die" there will probably be a robust secondary market for them in the form of stationary backup power. For a vehicle the reliability and KwH/kg is of paramount importance but for stationary uses, like storing excess power generated at night by a nuclear or wind power source for use during the day, KwH/sqft is more important and reliability isn't a deal breaker. So when the battery can't hold enough charge to get you from point A to point B or deliver enough current to accelerate properly, you might be able to sell it to your power company because it will still outperform most alternatives on the KwH/sqft.

If they price the batteries like they do other OEM equipment for cars they probably will cost $31,000; hopefully they will have enough sense to lower their margins on these.
Exactly. The problem with the GM idea is that it is halfway at a substantial extra cost. They are only making 10,000 of these per year. They could sell that many to "green" people with solar panels on their roof, especially if they ditched the gas engine and got the cost down.

07-28-2010, 07:47 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by GeneV Quote
It seems like the GM solution is the worst of both worlds. You schlepp around a gas engine, tank and generator in addition to the batteries.

The perfect may be the enemy of the good, here. It seems that there are battery technologies that have been proven and that are being manufactured in volume which could be used. The Tesla uses computer cells. Somehow, with 1999 battery technology, the EV-1 managed to have almost exactly the same range as the Nissan Leaf.

Where is Toyota in this? A Prius is not too far off the Volt in its technology. It just needs a bigger battery. Replace the gas engine with a bigger battery and a charger.
I will preface this with a disclaimer that I am not a mechanical engineer and know very little about automobiles.

I would have liked to see them design the volt in a modular way so that you could either use the space under the hood for either (a) nothing to reduce weight, (b) extra batteries to increase electric range, or (c) generator for extended range.

With proper design it seems like they could even rent the generators to people when they go on trips, you just bring your car into the shop the week before and they install it in an hour or two and bring it back when you come home.
07-28-2010, 08:22 AM   #10
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Personally I would pass on a 100% electric. Hang in there for a plug-in hibred with a PZEV engine or possibly a diesel if they become available. This will give you the best of both worlds. Clean, cheap electric plug-in power and a clean, hi efficiency engine to take you beyond the 70/100 mile likely range of a 100% electric. On gas alone they should be above 35-45 MPG. On a combo plug-in and gas they report around 100 MPG.

A few folks have been 'hacking' the current crop of hibreds to make them plug-in.

Hi-breds and all electrics are more than a motor and a battery. They should all have braking regeneration systems. With a petro engine on board you can also have stuff like a winter heater and a summer A/C. Try and do that with a 100% battery car.
07-28-2010, 09:49 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by GeneV Quote
Does anyone know why the new electric cars cost so much? GM is asking $41,000 and Nissan $32,000. Nissan's car seems to have the basic capability of the GM EV-1 from 1999. I would think that hooking up an electric motor and some batteries would be a lot simpler than tweaking an internal combustion engine to the Nth degree. GM's car has the cost of both technologies, but it seems like Nissan could do better than that.
Actually there is a $7500 credit/rebate (not sure which) from the guvinment. (So yes we are subsidizing them) Why not let the free market determine whether it will sell or not.

Out of the political side now. The Volt gets 40 miles per charge. Then takes 3 hours to charge. You get all that for 33500 + tax tag and title. That my friends is a bargain. (insert sarcastic smiley here)
07-28-2010, 09:52 AM   #12
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Whatever the market will bear?

In 2010 the average price of a new car purchased in the US is almost $29,000.

In economically depressed rural Upstate New York last week I drove past
a car dealership offering brand new midsize SUVs for "only" $39,900.

I guess it all depends on what you consider "expensive"...

Chris
07-28-2010, 10:18 AM   #13
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The electric car is a new product. A lot of the R&D costs and expected warranty issues of any new technology are reflected in the price. The prices will come down as electric cars become more common. The battery issues are the big problem. Besides replacement cost, they are a nasty product which will cause environmental issues as bad as oil. There is a long way to go before the electric car will become practical for most of us. But like any new technology, the only way the bugs are going to be worked out is to put it to use.
07-28-2010, 10:25 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by graphicgr8s Quote
Actually there is a $7500 credit/rebate (not sure which) from the guvinment. (So yes we are subsidizing them) Why not let the free market determine whether it will sell or not.

Out of the political side now. The Volt gets 40 miles per charge. Then takes 3 hours to charge. You get all that for 33500 + tax tag and title. That my friends is a bargain. (insert sarcastic smiley here)
Wait until the electric bill comes for the constant recharge. I don't understand why people think this is going to be energy (coal and oil generated) free technology. Rolling blackouts in California? Wait until they all start charging their cars in addition to running their AC units.

07-28-2010, 10:34 AM   #15
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It's the cost of batteries: there is a lot more demand than supply.

That's one thing the much-maligned stimulus program has accomplished: starting the factories to make enough of these things.

It'll take a while, but that's coming. When the batteries in an electric you buy now reach the end of their service life, they'll either be far cheaper or not your most pressing problem.
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