Elon Musk’s Battery Day Could Reveal Very Cheap Batteries

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Photographer: Alex Kraus/Bloomberg Photographer: Alex Kraus/Bloomberg Sign up to receive the Green Daily newsletter in your inbox every weekday. A decade ago, some of the smartest minds at the U.S. Department of Energy set an ambitious goal: lower the cost of battery packs to $100 per kilowatt-hour from more than […]

Enercity AG Electric Vehicle Charge Site as Germany Boost Green Energy Infrastructure

Photographer: Alex Kraus/Bloomberg

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A decade ago, some of the smartest minds at the U.S. Department of Energy set an ambitious goal: lower the cost of battery packs to $100 per kilowatt-hour from more than $1000 per kWh. If achieved, electric cars would reach cost parity with internal-combustion engine cars — unleashing a revolution.

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That moment is here. Later today, at Tesla’s Battery Day event, Elon Musk could announce that the California-based company now makes batteries that cost less than $100 per kWh. Even if he doesn’t, the goal is within reach. In March, General Motors, partnering with South Korean battery maker LG Chem, set a goal of reaching $100 per kWh soon. Volkswagen has hinted that its newest electric car, the ID.3, uses batteries that cost less than $100 per kWh.

Charging Ahead

Lithium-ion batteries continue to get cheaper each year

Source: BloombergNEF

So where is the revolution?

It’s not like you see electric cars every where all the time. My environmentally minded friends who have cars or want to buy them (not that there’s a lot of them wanting to buy cars) aren’t choosing electrics just yet. They still complain about the lack of charging infrastructure and the inconvenience of taking battery-powered cars on long weekend trips.

That skepticism bears out in the numbers. Electrics made up less than 4% of global car sales in 2019. Even China, which has invested heavily in promoting a homegrown industry of electric cars, is hesitant about setting a firm timeline for phasing out fossil-fuel vehicles.

But revolutions are messy, and signs of big changes are there if you look for them.

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