Battery costs are already falling rapidly with increased deployment of EVs and other uses for battery technologies. A recent report from McKinsey & Company projected “dramatically” falling prices for batteries by 2020 — to around $200 per kilowatt hour, and $160 by 2025, down from $500-600 at the time the report was written in 2012, and down from about $1,200 in 2009. A 2013 report from Navigant Consulting agrees in general with the McKinsey team, projecting $180 by 2020, down from $500 now.
Navigant also projects a more than ten-fold increase in EV battery production by 2020. If we see the same price drop in this area that we have seen with respect to solar panels — a 20 percent drop with every doubling of production — we can expect a bit more than three 20 percent price drops before 2020. This amounts to a net cost reduction of about 55 percent — less than the drops projected by Navigant and McKinsey, but definitely in the same ballpark. This quick calculation gives a little more confidence that these companies’ projections aren’t outlandish.
The battery price reductions bring the cost premium of an EV to only about $2,000 by 2020, when compared to a comparable conventional auto. This premium can quickly be made back with fuel savings, due to the cost of electricity being so much lower than the cost of gasoline, so the total cost of ownership of EVs will at that point be far less than for conventional vehicles.