Closing the gap
Chiang and Moniz said plug-in hybrid vehicles -- just now appearing in the U.S. market -- are a valuable bridge toward the all-electric vehicle.
A plug-in hybrid carries a battery with a usable energy capacity of about 10 kilowatt-hours, but its range is extended by its hybrid gasoline engine that is available for recharging. If technology advances and increasing production lowers the cost to $250 per kilowatt-hour within this decade, then the incremental cost of the battery for this vehicle would be $2,500. "That's credible," said Moniz. "That isn't crazy."
Heywood said that the price gap between electric and internal combustion engine vehicles must close substantially. It is not realistic to imagine that Congress would continue the current top federal subsidy of $7,500 per vehicle if annual sales reach 1 million, he said. "Politicians won't spend that much. They'll stop short," he said.
While better technology will shrink the difference on one end, rising gasoline prices would do the same on the other, he said. The world's supply of oil may grow only half as much as demand in the coming decades, and that means higher fuel prices, he said. With all the uncertainties, the United States must keep working on the most promising electric vehicle strategies, he said. "We have no choice."
Reporter Saqib Rahim contributed.
Reprinted from Climatewire with permission from Environment & Energy Publishing, LLC. www.eenews.net, 202-628-6500