According to Quartz magazine, electric cars could be cheaper than conventional cars within a decade, based on remarks by Deutsche Bank analyst Rod Lache. He argues that the tighter fuel economy regulations due to kick in shortly will drive up the cost of an internal combustion powertrain by $2,000 or more for a total cost of $7,500 per car.
By contrast, Lache thinks new battery production facilities like Tesla’s Gigafactory can achieve economies of scale that will slash the price of batteries from $200 per kWh to under $100. If that happens, a compete EV drivetrain will cost around $6100, giving a significant price advantage to electric cars.
There is plenty of debate on this topic. ExxonMobil issued its own report this month in which it claims internal combustion engines will rule the world’s roads until at least 2040. So who’s right?
One voice of reason in the conversation is BMW’s head of sales and marketing Ian Robertson, who told the press this week that he expects more than just economies of scale to impact the electric car industry within the next ten years. He anticipates breakthroughs in technology will help the lithium air battery supplant the lithium ion battery before long and that solid state batteries will replace both of them soon after that. When that happens, he says, companies will stop investing in internal combustion engines and switch their R&D efforts to electric drivetrains.
“At some point in the future the technologies will switch over,” he said. “When the crossover comes and the focus becomes electricity, the rate of learning will accelerate even faster,” he said. “Relatively, that time is not far away.” His remarks make clear he believes that changeover will take place within the next 10 years.
About the only thing we can be certain of is that a period of rapid change is ahead for the automobile industry. The cars in dealer showrooms a decade from now will probably be a lot different than the models on sale today. Will they be powered by gasoline engines, electric motors or fuel cells? Or will some new technology come along that no one has even thought of yet?