Transportation: Electric Vehicles (EV) – range versus price

As you can see, EVs in (primarily) the US $30,000 to $40,000 price range have a maximum range of (about) 100-125 miles.

To obtain a range of (about) 250 miles or more costs (about) $80,000 or more.

Source: EV Statistics of the Week: Range, Price and Battery Size of Currently Available (in the US) BEVs – EVAdoption

The above chart leaves out the Tesla Model 3 (base price ranges are about $40,000 to $57,000 plus additional options) with a range of up to about 300 miles. Also, some 2019/2020 cars have increased their range – the Nissan Leaf Plus now has a range of 228 miles and the newest Chevy Bolt is rated at 258 miles; both sell for less than $40,000.

When viewed in terms of typical family incomes – where families cannot afford to purchase even the typical gas powered cars – these price tags are unaffordable for typical consumers. (The reality is that manufacturers price their mix of cars at a level to optimize total revenue and profits. Prices are determined by the market -not their build cost. Manufacturers have identified that consumers are willing to pay more, by taking on debt, and have priced their gas and EVs at what is, in their position, the optimal price.)

Price – and range anxiety – are the two leading impediments to purchasing an EV.

From here, we can see prices organized as a column chart and compared to some gas powered vehicles:

EV enthusiasts say that EVs are more expensive to buy but less expensive over time due to expected lower maintenance costs and lower “fuel” costs. Many EVs come with an 8-10 year battery warranty as well, although battery failures beyond that can be an expensive replacement option.

Because battery technology is presently expensive, manufacturers are focused primarily on the luxury vehicle segment. This means less well off people are subsidizing EV tax credits used by wealthy people to buy EVs. (Subsidies are not free and are paid for by other taxpayers.) Driving an EV is also about virtue signaling, say about 75% of EV drivers, according to a survey by Volvo. while paradoxically “helps them to feel better about making less environmentally conscious decisions in “other areas of life.”‘ Hmmmm….

Plug-in hybrids, which operate as an EV for short range in town driving, appear to reduce GHGs at an attractive price point as shown by this chart (source):

Many think the year 2020 will see the introduction of more affordable EVs, lower priced EVs with longer range, and higher priced EVs with much longer ranges. We will see.

Call me an EV Realist

Note – in spite of what I write on these pages, I am bullish on EVs and would like, at some point, to have one myself. But I am trying to be realistic about their affordability to ordinary people, range issues that impact those who live in cold climates and/or drive cross country, and that they do not – yet – significantly reduce GHG emissions for many drivers depending on where they live. In at least half a dozen US states, nearly 100% of electricity is generated by burning coal, for example, and remains high as a percent of electricity generation in many more states. Electric utilities have sharply reduced their GHGs – down by a surprising -40% since 2005 – by (almost entirely) switching from coal to natural gas, which reduces GHG emission by more than half. There is no indication that EVs are worse than gas cars, and are generally better, but not nearly as much better as some proclaim (such as “zero emission vehicle” stickers on the backs of some EVs).

One third of all charging stations in the entire U.S. – are located in California which limits the usefulness for longer distance travel in outlying areas, off the Interstates.

For many years, electricity demand has been dropping (another surprise) but EV charging demand is expected to increase the need for more power (in fact, this is a major reason electric utilities support EVs – duh!). As demand increases relatively to future “clean” supply costs, charging EVs may become more expensive. On the other hand, some think that EVs could mostly large during the overnight hours when there is already excess production capacity. This would help utilities to get more use (and sales) out of their capital investment. But some think that to make this work, utilities will have to go to time-of-day pricing rather than a fixed rate. Whereas you might pay 10-15 cents/KWH to recharge today, you might be paying 30 or more cents//KWH when charging during peak daylight times – when people are traveling.