US NRC Report Says Plug-Ins Not to Make Headway in Market for Decades

NRC PHEV Market Share Chart

In brief: A U.S. National Research Council report find that plug-in hybrid (PHEV) costs are likely to remain high and thus their impact on the market will remain low for decades.

The word

NRC Chart

The costs of light-duty PHEVs is high, largely because of their lithium-ion batteries, and a decrease in those costs aren't likely in the near-term. So says the report from the NRC.

The report looks at two configurations of plug-ins: a 10-mile range and a 40 mile range (all electric). Both have a larger battery pack than most standard hybrid electrics like the current Toyota Prius.

While the smaller 10-mile pack is much cheaper, it has little impact on the vehicle's overall fuel economy and thus would be hard to rectify in any kind of return-on-investment scenario for consumers.

The cost difference between the average mid-sized sedan (gasoline ICE) rises by about $6,300 when it is instead manufactured as a PHEV with a 10-mile range and by $18,100 when fitted with 40-mile range batteries. That's cost to manufacturer, not consumer.

The NRC predicts that it will take some time for the costs of lithium-ion batteries to fall enough to change this, as the chart above demonstrates.

And so ...

While the study doesn't look at battery electrics, the same scales of economy apply. While a BEV might recuperate its investment cost to the consumer faster, the total cost of these vehicles is still very high.

Photo credits: NRC

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