An Evaluation of Current and Future Costs for Lithium-Ion Batteries for Use in Electrified Vehicle Powertrains
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Powertrain electrification is a concept which encompasses hybrid-electric vehicles (HEVs), plug-in hybrid-electric vehicles (PHEVs), and pure electric vehicles (EVs). Such vehicles have received attention recently as a potential solution for reducing the carbon intensity of the transportation sector. The fundamental challenge to the commercial success of electrified vehicles is energy storage. Consensus in the automotive industry is that lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries are the most likely candidate for overcoming this challenge in the next decade. However, these batteries must meet five categories of goals in order for them to enable the success of electrified vehicles: energy, power, lifetime, safety, and cost. Of these five goals, cost may be the most uncertain, and perhaps the most critical. This research examines the primary cost drivers for automotive Li-ion batteries at the cell-, module-, and pack-level. It then investigates how these costs may change over the next two decades, and what impact this may have on the cost-competitiveness of electrified vehicles. This is accomplished through the development of a bottom-up cost model that considers the materials cost, manufacturing cost, and other costs such as corporate overhead and research and development that contribute to overall Li-ion battery costs. Two scenarios of how these costs may change are developed: an optimistic case and a pessimistic case. Additionally, the level to which battery costs must decline in order for vehicles of varying levels of powertrain electrification to become economically competitive with their conventional internal combustion engine counterparts is calculated. Results indicate that the primary cost drivers for Li-ion batteries at the pack-level are cell-level materials cost and manufacturing yields. Improvements in these areas will be key drivers for reductions in overall battery costs, and may make electrified vehicles cost-competitive with conventional automobiles. However, this cost-competitiveness is highly sensitive to fuel prices. Various policy and market mechanisms can significantly impact the economic viability of electrified vehicles and influence the rate at which they are adopted.
DepartmentNicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences
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