Plug-In Electric Car Sales Climb As Battery Costs Decline


Battery Costs vs. Plug-In Sales

Battery Costs vs. Plug-In Sales

The U.S. Department of Energy is reporting that the continual drop in battery cost correlates directly to the increase in plug-in vehicle sales.  While we think fact this is somewhat true, we would put as much weight on the ever-increasing CARB requirements to actually sell EVs over the past several years, and also on the much expanded plug-in offerings (from 3 in 2011 to ~22 in 2014)

Additional Supporting Information

Additional Supporting Information

In 2009, the DoE estimates that lithium-ion batteries cost ~ $1,000 per kilowatt-hour (kW-hr). At this time, electric vehicles sales were essentially non-existent (very few models were on the market though). By 2011, companies were starting first efforts to produce and mass-market plug-in vehicles, as the cost dropped to $600 per kW-hr.

Battery costs have continued to fall, and at a much quicker rate, in the past few years. From 2009-2014 the drop was 71% and sales of plug-ins rose to almost 300,000.

Tesla reports battery pack cost per kWh as low as $260 (some reports say $200 per kWh) at this point and is confident that cost will be much lower soon enough.

With battery companies aggressively increasing production, as well as companies making plans to build more Gigafactories, and automakers worldwide funneling money into adding additional battery manufacturing sites, we will see this number drop exponentially in the years to come.

Whatever the main drivers to growth ultimately are, we are just pleased to see plug-in sales continue their strong growth in the US and around the world.


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21 responses to "Plug-In Electric Car Sales Climb As Battery Costs Decline"
  1. Speculawyer says:

    Innovation for the win!

    If oil prices keep going up, plug-in sales should improve further.

    If we get to $100/KWH and $4/gallon gasoline, EVs will be a complete no brainer for light-duty transportation.

    1. John says:

      Combine all this with the climbing efficiency of solar, and you’ve got the perfect storm of generation and storage.

      1. beta995 says:

        The future looks bright, except for carbon. The next 12 years will be a bloodbath for the carbon industry.
        ETF SPYX: the S&P 500 index without carbon, and low expense ratio also.

        And then there’s TAN, the solar index.

        When you see the geometric curve go vertical it time to get out, before the Panic to the Exit.

        1. Bill Stewart says:

          The only type of carbon that has a bright future is graphite. 50 KG+ in each EV

    2. Alaa says:

      Not only light duty transportation, but any ICE including jets.

      1. Jeff says:

        Not likely – 6,900 gallons of jet fuel (737 capacity) is equivalent of ~2.7 MWh battery.

        1. scott franco (No M3 FAUX GRILL!) says:

          That’s not the only reason. The other is that the only two modes of propulsion that are electric driven are propellers and ION drive. We can eliminate the latter because that only operates in a vacuum (space).

          However, staying with props, there is no reason why EVs might not replace short hop aircraft (50-500 miles typical). These trips are often made by turboprops because they are made at lower altitude and shorter runways, neither to the advantage of jets.

          For airplane use, batteries need to solve both the capacity issue and more specifically weight, which is a concern special to aircraft. A/C also have fuel use curves, which battery use does not also have. I.e., fuel weight is considerable, but the weight goes down rapidly as the aircraft uses the fuel.

          1. Speculawyer says:

            Nah . . . hyperloop for regional transportation.

            Long haul is hard. Probably biofuels.

          2. In a modern hi bypass Turbofan motor 80% of the thrusters from the “propellers” (fan blades), not the jet.

            Electric motors could power a fairly conventional looking jet today, quite easily. You could probably also put a bunch of batteries in the wings just like Jet-A fuel.

            What you end up with as an extremely heavy shorter range vehicle that should be significantly quieter and absolutely lower in emissions. It should be able to operate in a far lower cost, in addition.

            Without regulatory pressure this will never happen, however. Simply put, this machine can’t compete hauling the same amount of passengers at the same price and airlines don’t give a shit about anything else but the bottom line.

            1. Vexar says:

              At some point with jet engines, you’re just keeping them very hot, and burning doesn’t matter. I have some crazy ideas on an electric jet engine, but probably best not to put them in comments on an EV forum.

            2. Alaa says:

              You also don’t have to constantly adjust your angle of attack since your weight doesn’t change. Thus a saving. At any rate if we assume a 400 kWh/kg and a 75% of the craft is battery weight then we can do a LA to NY easily.

            1. RexxSee says:

              Nice concept from AirBus
              With regenerative cruising and descent!

        2. Alaa says:

          At 30,000 ft or so most of the work is done by the fan not the jet engine. So you don’t need such a huge battery.

      2. Just_Chris says:

        It isn’t the cost that holds back the e-fan future. Solar eclipse is pretty much the state of the art in electric flying – its the size of a 747 and can carry 1 person….. slowly.

        A 747 at full throttle is running at 2 GW. All the comments about cruising are non-sense, you can turn the engines off and it still flies, you can also increase altitude on thermal updrafts but that doesn’t mean we can run commercial aircraft without engines.

      3. beta995 says:

        Hybrid Jets with electric turbofans for take off and landing, and a gas jet for cruising.

    3. Terawatt says:

      Yeah, but when EVs take off that is likely to prevent high oil prices – and may well drive oil prices much lower than we’ve seen in this round.

      Right now he growth in (mostly fossil burning) units is grearer than the reduction in fuel consumption from replacing old cars with new ones. That will change as EVs become a significant share of the market.

      Oil companies don’t seem to accept this, which sets us up for overcapacity and a collapse in prices again. If they believe their own propaganda, EVs will reduce oil demand by 1% by 2040…!

  2. Mikael says:


    Car sales climb but the graph shows a linear cummulative sales, which indicates no growth at all in sales.

    So if we should have any conclusion from the dropped battery price vs. sales it would be that the lower price of batteries the less growth. 😛

    Imagine if the price dropped to $100 per kWh, then there would be negative growth in the US. 😉
    Oh, wait… that already happened in 2015.

    (yes I of course know that lower battery costs will lead to more sales in the long run, but this was rather evidence of the oppsite)

    1. przemo_li says:

      Good catch.

      Thought there is simple explanation for that. While prices drop year over year, it takes multiple years to put new cars on the market, so that same “sales” speed over multiple years is “expected”.

      In USA at least where increased SUV sales eaten into sedans sales (with no EV SUVs in USA… )

    2. Woochifer says:

      That’s what I was thinking as well. The deceptive headline about EV “sales climb” is a total misnomer, since it’s talking about cumulative sales. Shameful attempt to gloss over the negative year-over-year (a true measure of sales change) sales trends from 2015.

  3. NOT INVENTED HERE (NIH) syndrome.

    That is why the Department of Energy can only see the price of batteries as the incentive to build the cars.

    For the record, the US government has never required Zero Emission or battery powered cars. Only the state of California has, since 1991, worked towards this goal.