Except that it isn't. This is bollocks. The vehicle costs more, but the fuel costs a factor of ~5 less. In the long run that's cheaper. EVs are already cheaper for people with long commutes, and they'll get cheaper for others quite rapidly over the next couple of years. AIUI they are also competitive on PCPs which is how most people actually buy cars these days.
The relative costs are distorted by several layers of different tax treatment.
If a car can do 3 to 4 miles per kWh, that works out to about 3 or 4 pence a mile at retail domestic rates.
The duty and tax free price of diesel is about 45 pence a litre, which can be used to travel 10 to 15 or more miles
Of course some people can charge their electric car from their own tax subsidised solar charging on the roof, which might be paying them about 14 to 16 per cent return on capital for what they supply to the grid at higher than retail price.
As I said on another forum, some of us can run cars on which the capital or depreciation cost is in low single figures pence per mile - mine about 1.66 p/mile. Compare that to 50 to 200 p/mile on some electrics and hybrids.
"Everybody needs to realise that clean mobility is like organic food: it’s more expensive".
Except that it isn't. This is bollocks. The vehicle costs more,
For now. But it won't always be that way. Anyone betting that EV's will remain more expensive than ICE vehicles in the long run is betting on the wrong horse. The trend lines are clear - EV manufacturing costs are dropping rapidly and ICE costs have flatlined years ago and started creeping up due to increasingly complex emissions systems to meet tougher and tougher regulations.
Apart from the battery, there is nothing fundamentally more expensive in an EV than an ICE, quite the reverse in fact due to the much lower parts count and greater simplicity of for example an electric motor vs a piston engine and all the things that go along with that such as exhaust system etc...
There's also almost nothing "consumable" in the propulsion part of an EV vs spark plugs, oil, filters, exhaust pipes and so on which are expected to wear out and need replacing on an ICE. Of course an EV still has tyres, suspension and steering joints to wear out, wiper and door window motors to break down etc so it's not completely maintenance free, however the drive/propulsion system part of the car is basically maintenance free.
EV's are expensive up front today for two main reasons -
1) Batteries are still expensive to manufacture. They are the single most expensive item in a car by a country mile. The manufacturing price per kWh has come down by a factor of 5 (!) since my Ion was made in 2011, which is a fantastic improvement in only 8 years, however it still needs to drop by another 2x to 3x or so from current prices to bring an EV below ICE in up front cost. So at the current rates of improvement, within about 5 years.
Although a lot of R&D goes into designing and improving the state of the art in batteries, (and that costs money up front for manufacturers) they're something that once developed, can be churned out like sausages as they're simple devices without any moving parts. Batteries are still expensive today because until the recent increase in demand for EV's there simply wasn't much manufacturing capacity in the world for Lithium Ion batteries this large in size and capacity and in large quantities with most Lithium Ion batteries going to laptops and cellphones. Suddenly a third large market for batteries has opened up and nobody has the capacity to fulfill it yet despite a number of new plants like Tesla's gigafactory going in and LG Chem and Samsung SDI jumping into the fray.
Battery companies are falling over themselves to meet demand but the gap between demand and supply is so large that they can charge a premium for cells and still sell everything they can make, so of course they will do that as they ramp up production capabilities, which will take a few years.
The cost of batteries doesn't need a technical breakthrough to come down, its simply a case of scaling up production - it's literally an economy of scale problem as the manufacturing scale isn't there yet, but it will be in a few years.
2) For a legacy manufacturer, making an EV means throwing out decades of amortised research on internal combustion engines that allows them to make what is an incredibly complex piece of machinery as cheap to make and reliable as it is today. They have to start over and to do a good job of it they have to rethink the whole platform design of the car and chassis to better fit around a battery as platforms that are shared between ICE and EV versions of a car inherently cause some compromises in the design due to the different packaging demands of an ICE and EV drivetrain. Not many manufacturers are willing to do this yet.
Lots of up front R&D costs for the manufacturer that have to be made back somehow, and that means higher prices passed on to the customer - for now. Also economies of scale can't kick in yet if you're only making 5,000 EV's and 200,000 ICE's a year for example. But as long as some people (early adopters) will buy these earlier, more expensive cars then demand should gradually increase and costs gradually go down as R&D is amortised and production rates go up.
So the cost to manufacture the cars will go down over time both in terms of the raw cost of the battery (which most manufacturers are buying from another supplier such as LG Chem or Samsung SDI) and the cost to the manufacturer themselves once their production lines are pumping out EV's in large numbers.
When the point is reached where the purchase price of an EV drops below that of a comparable ICE car, it has better acceleration, is smoother and quieter to drive, is more reliable, requires much less maintenance, and costs far less to fuel (all but one of these things is already true) it suddenly becomes a no brainer for the average person to buy, with the only potential downsides being range and charging time.
However by the time the price has dropped that far (about 5 years I reckon) range should be a problem of the past as well, and charging speeds will be very much higher than they are today, meaning only the most dedicated road warrior would find long distance driving inconvienient.
The world's known supplies of lithium would last 350 years
At the usage levels of a few years ago
Step up battery production by 100 times, and that time gets a bit shorter, and requires more industrialised extraction methods than raking salt out in Bolivian ponds to dry
Got any proper references to the claim above about a shortage of Lithium that you can share ? Because as far as I know this has been recently debunked by reliable sources, so I would consider this claim to be heresay unless proven otherwise.
While there is not enough production rate of Lithium at the moment to meet the demand of ramping up to a world full of EV's, (but production can be scaled up over time to keep track of increasing demand, and already is) I've seen nothing at all to suggest that there is a shortage of Lithium in a total quantity sense.
Any claims of "the worlds known supplies" also convieniently ignore the fact that Lithium being put into batteries is not being burnt as a consumable fuel like crude oil is when used as petrol or diesel. Once you burn petrol or diesel it's gone, broken down into simplier chemicals such as carbon dioxide, hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide from incomplete combustion etc, and released into the atmosphere, and it cannot be recycled into petrol or diesel or crude oil again. At least in human lifescales it is an open cycle.
Lithium on the other hand is being used to make a battery, and that Lithium then stays with the car for the life of battery in the car as one of its constituent materials. It is not consumed. When the battery and/or car reach the end of their life the battery can either be used in a second life application for a few more years (fixed storage) to make use of the reduced but still useful capacity of the battery and then eventually be recycled for the raw materials. (Or go directly from the car to recycling)
So while there will be a high demand for Lithium initially while EV's ramp up - since there is currently no Lithium recycling on the scales needed to produce car batteries, due to no large supply of old worn out car batterys to supply the recycling chain, once there are old EV batteries that need recycling in large numbers the recycling process will kick off at industrial scales and start to feed back into the raw materials supply for batteries making battery manufacturing largely a closed cycle fed primarily by recycled materials. All the main chemical constituents of Lithium Ion batteries can be recycled.
Because EV batteries (even first generation ones) are lasting a lot longer than expected by many, EV batteries are still not old enough yet to require any recycling as most of them are still in the cars they were made for... so I'd say it's going to be at least 10 years, possibly more before there is any significant need for industrial scale recycling of EV batteries, however there are companies already waiting in the wings to do this as soon as the supply of worn out batteries reaches a sufficient level.
And if you think people will just dump the batteries in landfills - apart from being physically very difficult to do this (try turning up to your local recycling centre with a 300Kg battery pack on a trailer and see how quickly you are turned away ) it is already illegal to do this and proper disposal of EV batteries through recycling chains is already required by law.
Lithium is not an issue. The only ingredient in current batteries of concern is cobalt, mainly due to the working conditions of extracting it in places like the peoples republic of congo - where you have corrupt and greedy 3rd world governments willing to turn a blind eye to a few companies using child labour etc in mines... It's not that those materials can't be mined safely just that those corrupt countries allow the exploitation to happen.
As a result all manufacturers are moving away from cobalt in their battery designs. It's not currently possible to eliminate it completely, typically there is still a very small amount of cobalt used, (far less than the Lithium) but it is being minimised and they are being careful to check supply chains to avoid using those that are mined under adverse conditions.
Eventually battery chemistries will be found that don't require any cobalt. You're only ever one breakthrough away from being able to eliminate dependence on a particular material in a battery.
Someone needs to develop sodium based batteries.
I agree - work is being done on this, and there are advantages other than just reducing Lithium requirements. For example Sodium Ions are seen as one of the possible transport Ions (along with Lithium) for solid state battery designs, so use of Sodium may go hand in hand with any solid state battery designs that come out.
"As I said on another forum, some of us can run cars on which the capital or depreciation cost is in low single figures pence per mile - mine about 1.66 p/mile. Compare that to 50 to 200 p/mile on some electrics and hybrids."
Isn't that just comparing old cars to new ones? Hardly fair. Depreciation on all cars is just new-price/lifetime. So it's maybe 20% higher for EVs at the moment if we assume the same lifetime, but if they last longer, as is widely expected, it may already be about the same. As the prices equalise it'll become lower. (EV Mini released this week is cheaper than the petrol version, I note).
Mandrake gave a good treatise on why nearly all cars are going to be EVs surprisingly soon. Are you seriously disputing that?
Lithium is not a limiting factor for battery manufacture according to the people who study this. There have been price variations as supply ramps, but it been falling significantly for a while (dropped by about 1/3rd since start of 2018): https://tradingeconomics.com/commodity/lithium. That is expected to continue for some time.
First commercial electric motorhome (EFA-S 'Iridium') was announced at end of last year, and is now available, with 108kWh battery. Motorhomes already cost a fortune, and as this one is done by converting an existing new Diesel one, and it has a massive battery, it's very expensive at 200,000€. But with 400km/250 mile range that does demonstrate that it's possible. https://www.iridium-wohnmobile.de/
VW announced an 'ADT' VW transporter with 78kWh (250 mile NEDC, i.e more like 190mile really). No actual availability date, but it looks like things are finally happening in this area. https://insideevs.com/news/340514/vw-re ... fter-more/ Hopefully these will be slightly less insanely priced and can be used as a base to convert.
"As I said on another forum, some of us can run cars on which the capital or depreciation cost is in low single figures pence per mile - mine about 1.66 p/mile. Compare that to 50 to 200 p/mile on some electrics and hybrids."
Isn't that just comparing old cars to new ones? Hardly fair. Depreciation on all cars is just new-price/lifetime. So it's maybe 20% higher for EVs at the moment if we assume the same lifetime,
Yes, this unfair comparison of old ICE to new EV is often done. Of course the total cost of ownership of running an old ICE for a few years which has already largely depreciated is cheaper than buying a new EV despite the EV being a lot cheaper to run on a per mile basis. But the same comparison could be made between old ICE and new more fuel efficient ICE.
Replacing an old but still reliable car which is not causing you too many maintenance or reliability headaches yet with a new one is never a sound financial decision as it will always cost you a lot more money thanks to depreciation. You're buying the new car because you want or think you want it, not because it will save you money... I paid £450 for my Xantia and while I've probably spent >£5k of fuel alone over the last 5 years the total cost of ownership is still less than the purchase price of even a very cheap £10k new ICE.
This is why when considering an EV at the moment I would only advocate either buying second hand past the depreciation slump as I did, or waiting until you were already considering or needing to replace an old ICE with a newer car and then weighing up the pros and cons of a new ICE vs new EV. Replacing a perfectly good car is always going to cost more money unless you do huge mileage and you can make back some of the cost quickly.
Right now is not actually a good time to buy a brand new EV despite there being more options than ever on the market, because demand greatly outstrips supply for both new and to a lesser extent second hand. This means jacked up prices above what the cars are really worth. Is a Kia e-Niro really worth £33-35k ? It's a great EV to be sure with a huge range etc but a Niro as a car isn't a £30k+ car IMO, especially when even the high spec ICE versions are well under £30k... The other problem is long waiting lists. (Order today and get one in 12 months ? Rediculous)
Anyone on the fence should either have a low cost low risk dabble in the second hand market as a second car as I did or wait a bit longer for supply to catch up to demand and prices to fall accordingly IMHO. This may take 2 or 3 years.
In 2017 when I bought my Ion it was a buyers market - PCP's for new Leaf's were rediculously cheap and second hand EV's were selling for a song as nobody really wanted them, (they were undervalued) and despite there only being a few hundred Ion's in the whole of the UK (about 400 I think) they were selling for under £5k for a 6 year old car. I got mine for £4200 with only 28k miles on the clock.
Today, it's a sellers market. Leaf PCP's are rediculously expensive. High demand, lack of supply, and that has carried through to the second hand market as well. The cheapest Ion available now is £5200 for a high mileage example like mine and more still for lower mileage younger version. Despite my car being 2 years older and having done £30k more miles I could actually sell it for £1000 more than I bought it for!
It's tempting, except for the fact that there is no other EV I can afford that I could replace it with because the second hand prices of all other EV's have gone up accordingly and gone out of my price range...
The tipping point in public opinion seems to have been the governments 2040 mandate that was published around June 2017 - just a few months after I bought my Ion. I mocked it at the time as being toothless (and I still believe it is toothless and too far into the future) but it perhaps combined with Dieselgate seems to have swayed public opinion into taking a more serious look at EV's, and prodded manufacturers into being a bit more serious about actually producing EV's. Ever since then it has gone from a buyers market to a sellers market and hasn't looked back.
but if they last longer, as is widely expected, it may already be about the same. As the prices equalise it'll become lower. (EV Mini released this week is cheaper than the petrol version, I note).
I'm not sure who it's widly expected by, but not me. First generation EV's will not last as long as a well tended ICE as the batteries won't last 20 years. Nobody really knows for sure how long those first generation batteries will last like the early Leaf and my Ion, but it's starting to look like about 10-12 years, and definitely not the 20 years you could expect from a well looked after ICE.
My Ion is 8 years old now and has done 55k miles and I'm starting to have some problems with the battery as discussed in my blog. It has 88 cells and 3 of them are deteriorating at a greatly accelerated rate compared to the others once the car got past about 40k miles. Cause unknown, probably due to manufacturing defects or tolerances in individual cells which don't show up until they get old and have been cycled a few hundred times.
The car hasn't broken down, still runs perfectly and I still drive it to work daily but range is significantly reduced since I bought it. (down from about 65 miles in summer to 55 miles) If I wasn't running a diagnostic on the battery to monitor the situation then apart from the range reduction I would be oblivous to the fact that something abnormal is going on and just think it was natural range degradation with age/mileage. However because I can compare the individual cells and have been recording the trends over the last 2 years I can see that there are a few abnormal cells and the rest are normal.
If EV's were readily available second hand that I could afford I would probably flick it on while it still has a useful range and move up to something a bit better but as mentioned above second hand prices are high and there is nothing I can afford to upgrade to so it's worth my while to attempt a cell swap of a few cells. Also the technical challenge intrigues me as not many DIY cell swaps have been done yet that I've heard of.
I paid £200 for four second hand cells which have proven to be good when I tested them so it makes economic sense to do the swap as it could extend the useful life of the car by many years by reversing much of the range loss and arresting the steep decline. However if it had turned out that the entire pack was heavily degraded then only a replacement of all the cells would have done anything - which would have been competely uneconomic as a pack would cost more than the value of the car.
So first gen EV's with small batteries and no active cooling I wouldn't expect the batteries to last past 10-12 years. However all things being equal a larger battery will last more miles due to reduced cycle count. For example if 500 cycles gets me 50k miles on a 16kWh battery, 500 cycles on a 32kWh battery would get me 100k miles and on a 64kWh battery 200k miles.
A battery that only lasted 50k miles is not really fit for purpose however a battery that lasted 200k miles would outlast the car it was in in most cases. So more modern EV's with much larger batteries, active cooling (especially liquid cooling) and better cell chemistry are likely to last much, much longer than those early first generation models. I could easily see the 64kWh battery in something like an e-Niro lasting >200k miles and >15 years, possibly more. You might get some random individual cell failures but those could be replaced at a modest cost.
Funny you mention the mini - I saw the fully charged video on that and was underwhelmed. A 32kWh battery and 144 miles range in 2020 just doesn't cut the mustard in my opinion. As a small city car - sure. As the one car for a family, forget it. This is a good example of the compromises that happen when you shoehorn a battery into an ICE platform rather than designing an EV specific platform. Compare that to the 50kWh battery and >200 mile range of the Peugeot e-208, a similar size car.
An excellent assessment of the market situation as it stands Mandrake. However I do feel you have missed one significant factor in the motivation of the new car buyer. I have first hand evidence of the sad fact that a large number of the modern generation change the car for "fashion" or "snobbery" reasons rather than economic benefit. Thus the efficiency or cash benefits often are ignored in favour of keeping the registration plate up to date. The government should look at the current method of year stamping a vehicle by its registration in order to remove the tendency to replace a perfectly good vehicle with a newer one for no reason other than updating the "label" for the benefit of neighbours and friends!! A habit I have never subscribed to as is evidenced by my 19 and 25 year old cars, both of which are as good as they were new. (well almost!).
I reckon that ev prices were deliberately set high to start with. New tech, scarcity, " must have one" factor and future profitability. Much easier to slightly reduce the cost later than to raise it, and as has been said many times before, never a lot of actual car for the money. The only ( and most important ) costly part being the battery. When you think of the huge development costs of an engine, leccy motors are very cheap and have been around for a long time.
And I would love one, when the price is right..... and the range suits 300/500 mile drives
Mandrake wrote:You're buying the new car because you want or think you want it, not because it will save you money... I paid £450 for my Xantia and while I've probably spent >£5k of fuel alone over the last 5 years the total cost of ownership is still less than the purchase price of even a very cheap £10k new ICE.
I found that funny - I paid £650 for my C5 six years ago and to date have spent £15,742.92 on diesel, which doesn't include the times my son and daughter have used it, they have probably put another £2,000 worth in it.
Excellent contribution from Simon, and also welcome Wookey for your contributions to the thread. I was a little disappointed to read on the thread "Where have all the Xantia Posts Gone?" a lament for the FCF of the past.
While not all members and viewers of the forum, may fully embrace or agree with the transition to electric vehicles I cant think of a mainstream car-related forum with a more comprehensive coverage, knowledge and good natured debate on such matters.
I think some of the fear of EV's on forums like this is that they are less DIY'able than older ICE cars. And that's true. There's less to go wrong (if we ignore the battery) but at the same time if something does go wrong it could be very expensive to repair, especially if the manufacturers have crazy high out of warranty replacement parts cost for things like on board charger, drive inverter etc... there's a lot of expensive, custom electronics in an EV and while there will eventually be a thriving after market for second hand replacement parts from wrecked cars it is not there yet as there aren't enough wrecked EV's.
However the same fears of loss of DIY'ability are largely true for brand new ICE vehicles as well, which are starting to get out of the realm of the DIY'er due to the huge number of ECU's, complex emissions control standards and so on. Already you can't get by without a "pirated" clone of a dealer diagnostic tool like Diagbox/Lexia, and the manufacturers are doing the best they can to lock those down more, such as making a lot of the features of Diagbox "online only" to thwart those of us with clone tools.
Every make of car has their own custom diagnostic tools so while a toolbox full of spanners will work on any car, the electronic diagnostic tools needed differ from car to car... So EV's being less amenable to DIY'ers is only part of the ongoing trend in this direction with all cars.
The skillset required to troubleshoot and repair EV's is also significantly different. They share many things in common of course - on my Ion I've still replaced tyres and a bent wheel rim recently, brake discs and pads, drop links, given the rear drum brakes a going over, repaired a seat adjustment handle, replaced the 12v battery, had a lower control arm replaced and wheel alignment done after I hit a traffic island and so on....
But I am also going to swap some cells in the main traction battery soon - and that is a very different skillset to regular grease monkey car repairs. It involves good knowledge of high voltage electronics and safety working on it, (so I don't electrocute myself or set fire to the car) an understanding of the performance and characteristics of the cells in a given model of car, how they might fail and how you might test them while still in the car, an understanding of how a battery management system works so that it can be told to retest the cells after being swapped etc....
Right up my alley but not for many people used to working on cars especially DIY. But it's all part of the ongoing progression of cars... 40 years ago it was all breaker points and kettering ignition systems, carburettors etc, those are all gone now. Now we have fuel injection, hall effect crank sensors, oxygen sensors, knock sensors, ECU's that control the injection, spark etc... as well as a lot of systems that never existed before like ABS, ESC, EGR and so on...
The future is coming whether we like it or not, I choose to embrace it and keep abreast of it, and try to maintain a level of DIY ability with the new technology but not everyone will or will want to of course.
Yet another well thought out summary Simon with regard to the fear of having to cough up main dealer prices for maintenance in the future, but in my case it is not so much fear of the costs, although that would seem to be justified, but more fear induced by the inherent lack of trust in having to pay high prices but not always getting high quality of service. We all have stories of ongoing fault sagas with the main dealers, arguments over warranty work, continual repeat visits while they change this and that before actually getting to the root of the problem and then finally replacing a £5 part which cures the fault but has cost £ 500 to locate!
Plus of course as an engineer I know that if I do it myself it is actually done and needed to be done. Horror stories of non technical motorists getting fleeced for new brake disks when the old ones were still perfectly serviceable or parts changed unnecessarily as a result of MOT tests abound, and by having a DIY ability you can keep the industry on its toes. As technology advances the maintenance will become more complex and, if the makers get away with it, will reach a point where you will not even be able to use independent garages for fear of invalidating battery warranties etc.
So my solution is simple, scrap the washing machine, fit the motor to your bicycle and store the garden tools in the car!!