According to a new report just issued by Bloomberg New  Energy Finance, sales of new battery-based and plug-in hybrid EVs will likely grow more rapidly than most think.  Global sales this year are likely to reach 1.6 million vehicles, up from 1.1. million in 2017. The report projects sales to surge to 30 million vehicles in 2030, based on EVs becoming cheaper to make than internal combustion engine-based vehicles.  By 2040, sales could grow to 60 million units and represent 55% of all light-duty vehicles sold. Unsurprisingly, the report sees China as the largest EV market, with half of all sales in 2025, with outright bans on ICE car sales in large cities.

The main driver of this growth is a predicted 70% drop in battery prices to $70/kWh from the current level of $209/kWh.  Interestingly, the report tends to discount entirely the contribution of hydrogen fuel cell EVs. Instead, the low battery prices undercut any economics of fuel cell vehicles.  Elon would agree.

A couple of things I doubt they got right are:

  1.  Battery prices and availability will be constrained by shortages of cobalt.  I agree that lithium will not be the constraint. There will be too many improvements in harvesting and recycling lithium for this to be a serious constraint.  But the focus on a crucial role for cobalt means the report implies that advances in using manganese and titanium instead, or even using lithium in metal form, will stall out.  That just doesn’t seem likely. Even now the popularity of non-cobalt lithium batteries is growing pretty fast.
  2.  Shared-use vehicles will be a tiny fraction of all EV sales.  You have to be an optimist on autonomous vehicles to believe otherwise, but I am one.  The growth in Uber, Lyft, and the like show that people are not as tied to owning every vehicle they use as they are at present.  EVs make autonomous vehicle use simple and easy. In increasingly congested cities, the hassles of car ownership and the expense of parking in my view will drive a much faster switch to shared-use.

The report is filled with a lot more thought-provoking analysis.   Check it out.

Thomas Hall

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Gary Simon is the Chair of CleanStarts Board. A seasoned energy executive and entrepreneur with 45 years of experience in business, government, and non-profits.


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