Are electric cars getting cheaper? – Car & Mobile


Traffic turnaround for high earners: battery models are only suitable as a second car. And they only pay off for homeowners with a solar roof. The Mobility Monitor 2021 suggests such prejudices. Only 24 percent of the population would consider buying an electric car in the next few years, according to the Allensbach survey on behalf of the Academy of Engineering Sciences (Acatech). 69 percent of those surveyed still do not see battery models as an alternative to combustion engines because the acquisition costs are too high.

The trend analysis shows that especially the population in eastern Germany, the older generation and the weaker social classes are strangers to the electric car. In addition, two thirds of those surveyed consider the range to be too short – although a large majority of them mostly cover shorter distances in their cars. Are the EU Commission and car manufacturers who want to abolish combustion engines in Europe by 2035 driving into a dead end with full electricity?

The reservations do not appear to be completely unfounded. The 58 kWh battery in the VW ID.3 costs 14,450 euros as a spare part – as much as a small car. With the large 77 kWh battery package for a nominal range of 550 kilometers, the cost price of the compact car rises to 42,000 euros – 6,000 euros more than the 58 kWh version and as much as a well-equipped Golf GTI. Experts do not consider the spare part price very meaningful. It is clear, however, that such a battery model would be difficult to sell without funding.

New battery factories are designed to reduce production costs. But raw material prices are rising

Smaller electric vehicles, for which there are already a number of suppliers in China, particularly benefit from the purchase premiums. What is usually missing from Western manufacturers are dedicated e-platforms that are built in their own factories. With large numbers of units, Volkswagen CEO Herbert Diess wants to make e-cars cheaper than combustion engines by 2030. To this end, the group also wants to set up cell production after another and expand the tried and tested modular strategy to include all electric vehicles – from small cars to super sports cars.

The confidence of VW planners is based not least on the progress made with battery cells: ten years ago, electric cars were twice as expensive as conventional vehicles. In 2015 the price premium was around 50 percent. At that time they traveled an average of 200 kilometers. In the meantime, the standard range has doubled on average – which, according to Acatech, only just under a third of the population has achieved. So the crucial question is whether advances in cell chemistry and costs can continue at the same pace in the future.

However, raw material experts are puzzled by the high number of units, which supposedly cause the cell price to fall further. In July, the German Raw Materials Agency (DERA) warned of a lithium bottleneck: the growing demand for batteries for electromobility could exceed current production by 5.9 times by 2040. “In view of the forecast increase in demand, we consider it to be an increasing challenge from 2025 to keep prices stable, especially for high-quality lithium hydroxide. It will take three to seven years for new mines to be developed and for them to deliver the desired quality,” says Wolfgang Bernhart from the consulting firm Roland Berger, “it is possible that efficiency gains due to higher numbers of e-cars will be heavily depressed by price increases for raw materials.”

Hartung Wilstermann, head of the battery division at the supplier Webasto, is nevertheless confident: “Depending on the requirements, we have already fallen below 150 euros per kilowatt hour for the battery system for cars Kilowatt-hour is forecast to be below 70 euros by 2030. This emerges from the studies that are most plausible for us, because they correspond to our previous experience. ” Not only the cells are meant, but the entire battery system including cooling and impact protection – but as purchase prices for the manufacturer and not as final prices (spare parts prices) for customers.

Extrapolated to an average consumption of 17 kWh per 100 kilometers, this means that the 58 kWh battery for a range of 335 kilometers (of which around 250 kilometers remain in winter) would cost around 5000 euros to buy in 2025. A number that Wolfgang Bernhard also considers realistic. That is still a lot of money for a small car, because the conventional drive for a city car, including manual transmission, costs only about half. That is why cheap electric vehicles in the four-meter class are still a rarity in this country. Only the Dacia Spring is available after deducting the e-car premium for 10,920 euros, but it has a small engine and can only travel 230 kilometers in the standard cycle.

There are rather mixed reviews for the Sparbr√∂tchen from Dacia. Are there no alternatives in sight? In fact, Tesla wants to attack the market leader VW with a small electric car head-on. Rumors are growing that at the end of this year, pre-series production of the 20,000 euro car (without subsidies) will start at the Shanghai plant. Nio boss William Li is also announcing a volume brand and wants to deliver “a better product than Tesla at a lower price”. VW already has the e-Up on offer, but the Wolfsburg-based company only pays for the electric flea on a combustion platform. Therefore it remains with a small series production, long delivery times and annoyed customers. Obviously, VW does not want to push two small electric speedsters below the ID.3 until 2024.

Will e-car owners have to pay more taxes if the mineral oil tax breaks away?

ADAC calculations show that many Stromers are already the cheaper alternative in terms of total costs – but only if the purchase premiums in Germany are included. The Check24 portal has calculated that consumers spend an average of 1385 euros a year on petrol. With the same mileage of 11,387 kilometers per year, you can already save more than 600 euros by switching to the power supply. In addition, there are tax advantages and low maintenance costs. “An electric e-Up or the ID.3 is already very cheap today, and in terms of monthly maintenance it is even cheaper than the internal combustion counterparts of the Up or Golf”, emphasizes Herbert Diess.

The CEO sees further potential in flexible charging times: the networked and self-service car charges when the electricity is cheap – and sometimes sells it again when the network needs support. There is a lot of potential in bidirectional charging, because the growing share of wind and solar energy in the network requires fast buffer storage. So will the cost of electricity for driving decrease as Diess expects? As soon as the tax revenue at the petrol station melts, the tax authorities are likely to look for other sources of income from motorists. The VW CEO is obviously also afraid of this: “Mobility will become cheaper at all – unless the state replaces the mineral oil tax with another levy.”

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