New technology is always expensive. As the tech evolves and spreads throughout global markets, costs for materials and manufacturing inevitably fall. That leads to lower prices for consumers, and to a degree, we’re seeing it happen in the realm of battery electric vehicles. Once a very pricey prospect for buyers, the least expensive EV for 2022 is the $28,425 Nissan Leaf.
However, the least expensive internal-combustion Nissan is still over $10,000 less than a Leaf. It’s generally the same story at every automaker that sells EVs – comparable combustion-powered cars are always less expensive, and not by a small amount. Of course, EVs still account for a just small portion of total new vehicle sales. That means prices between electric and combustion power should balance out in the near future, as production costs for EVs continue to fall. But will it actually happen?
That’s the subject of an interesting report from Road & Track. The news outlet recently spoke with Mercedes-Benz Chief Technology Officer Markus Schäfer, who painted a less than optimistic future for battery electric vehicles in terms of price. He cites a cost of $50 per kilowatt as a comparable metric EVs much reach to financially match internal-combustion engines. In short, he doesn’t see any way in which battery power can hit that target, or even get close.
The reason? In the report, Schäfer points to current battery tech still not being affordable despite increased usage. As such, development is ongoing to find better solutions, but that essentially resets the evolutionary process for getting new battery tech into cars. He also mentions the mining capacity for raw materials as a potential issue. With the variables added up, it leads Schäfer to a skeptical conclusion about EV prices dropping further, if at all.
“So the anticipated decrease well below 100 US dollars or Euros per kilowatt, that might take longer,” Schäfer said, according to Road & Track.
Exactly how much longer is a subject not discussed in detail. Meanwhile, Mercedes-Benz is striving to have an all-electric lineup by 2030. That’s eight years away, so perhaps the bigger question here is whether new battery tech will arrive and sift through the automotive realm before internal combustion goes away for good. Otherwise, new car buyers could face a future even more expensive than what exists now.