Energy Secretary Says 350 Mile, $25,000 EV Possible by 2017

Opponents of electric cars say that EV’s are too expensive and don’t go far enough for most people. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu, however, thinks an affordable EV with a 350 mile range is just years away.

That seems awfully optimistic to me, as the closest thing to a mass market EV, the Nissan Leaf, has about 100 miles of usable range and has an MSRP of about $33,000. Only after a generous $7,500 tax credit does the price approach $25,000. Chu, however, thinks that automakers can achieve 350 miles of range on a single charge, and turn a profit on an EV at $25,000. We’re about halfway through 2011, which would give automakers about six years to accomplish just such a task.

Mind you, I’m not saying this is impossible. No, I’ve always believed that the automakers have been sandbagging us in regards to new technologies. American automakers in particular have shown that while they often experience growing pains with new technology, such as the primitive emissions systems that gave us the “malaise” era of automobiles from the mid-70’s to the mid 80’s. However, they eventually adapt and go back to making good cars (for the most part.) Battery technology is improving daily, but I’m still not sure the prices are going to come down as rapidly as Chu and automakers hope.

I think Chu may be right in his statement, though only if you separate the two distinct parts. I believe that there will be a 350 mile electric vehicle on the road by 2017. And I do believe that we will see $25,000 EV’s without government assistance. However, if all the automakers follow Tesla’s path, and price EV’s according to their battery size, then I am thinking 350 miles will probably put you closer to $35,000 MSRP. For $25,000, I’d be perfectly happy with a real 200 miles of range under normal driving conditions.

What do you guys think? Is Chu off his rocker, or does he have it right?

Source: LA Times

Chris DeMorro is a writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to HEMIs. You can read about his slow descent into madness at Sublime Burnout or follow his non-nonsensical ramblings on Twitter @harshcougar.

Christopher DeMorro

A writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to HEMIs, can be found wrenching or writing- or else, he's running, because he's one of those crazy people who gets enjoyment from running insane distances.