What It'll Take For Electric Cars to 'Fly' Out of Showrooms

US Energy Secretary Steven Chu catalogs the progress made in EV development during his four years as head of the US Energy Department, as well as pointing out where technology needs to be to make EVs competitive.

Published: 01-Feb-2013

Steven Chu, the secretary of energy, gave a short talk on electric vehicles on Thursday at the Washington Auto Show. Dr. Chu, a physicist who is widely expected to be departing shortly from the job he has held for four years, described the progress made so far and what would have to happen next to make electric vehicles a mass-market product.

First he cited the cost of the battery. While it has declined from about $1,000 per kilowatt-hour of storage in 2008 to about $500 today, it would have to decline to $125 over the next 10 years.

A kilowatt-hour will propel a small electric car three or four miles. Its cost is cheap, about 11 cents. Storage for that kilowatt-hour is what is pricey. A battery that stores $2 worth of electricity but costs $8,000 to buy and has the same range potential as two or three gallons of gasoline is an odd combination, like buying a solid gold cup and using it to serve tap water.

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