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Lithium-Ion Cell Prices Poised for Big Plunge

The Model S, this one snapped in upscale Westport, Connecticut last week, is becoming dominant in America’s wealthiest zipcodes. (Jim Motavalli photo)

It’s nice to hear optimism in the electric car space. While it’s hardly likely that President Obama’s dream of a million EVs on the road by 2015 will be realized, low lithium-ion battery prices by then (and even lower ones by 2020) will spur a growth spurt in the plug-in market, said Sam Jaffe, a senior research analyst at Navigant Research.

Jaffe is leading a Navigant webinar on “The Lithium-Ion Inflection Point” Tuesday afternoon. Global demand, the company said, “is set to explode.” While the word choice might not be ideal following the two Tesla fires, it’s evocative anyway. The main reasons? Improvements in the cost of the chemistry, energy density, performance and safety, plus big economies of scale.
How About $180 per KwH?

Jaffe said Monday he expects to see large-format lithium-ion cell prices drop from $500 a kilowatt hour now to $300 by 2015 and a dramatically low $180 by 2020. “I feel very confident about those number,” he said. “They’re the result of a lot of back and forth with manufacturers, and they say the reason they picked li-ion in the first place is that it had the potential to reach those kinds of numbers. The price drops have already started—we’re seeing costs come down for many of the components of the battery, including the metal, wiring and plastic.”


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