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2012 Ford Focus Battery Pack Cost: $12,000-$15,000, Says CEO

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Lithium-ion battery pack installation in 2012 Ford Focus Electric at Wayne Assembly Plant

Lithium-ion battery pack installation in 2012 Ford Focus Electric at Wayne Assembly Plant

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Over the past few years, there’s been a lot of speculation surrounding the actual cost to automakers of the lithium-ion battery packs used in most modern electric cars. 

Unfortunately, the automotive industry hasn’t been keen to disclose any figures, but on occasion we’ve managed to use rudimentary math to make reasonably well-informed estimates based on the snippets of information we have been able to obtain.

Now we can find out just how close we were, courtesy of Ford CEO Alan Mulally. 

Talking at Fortune Magazine’s Brainstorm Green conference in California earlier this week, Mulally gave a ballpark figure for the 23-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack in the 2012 Ford Focus.

“They’re around $12,000 to $15,000 for a type of car that normally sells for about $22,000,” he told the audience. “So, you can see why the economics are what they are.”

As The Wall Street Journal points out, that translates to a raw price per kilowatt-hour of between $522 and $650, meaning battery prices are already much cheaper than some industry insiders had predicted.

Mulally’s candor could be interpreted as an attempt to excuse the sticker price of the $39,200 Ford Focus Electric, or an attempt to explain its small ad budget and poor sales figures for the car.

Shortly after the panel, however, a Ford spokesperson stepped in to impose some damage control. According to Ford PR, Mulally’s comments were only “designed to provide an indication of the car’s battery costs,” nothing more. 

Regardless of this, Mulally’s comments indicate that electric car battery pack prices have already begun to drop dramatically. 

2012 Ford Focus Electric

2012 Ford Focus Electric

Enlarge Photo

If an automaker like Ford, with a very limited electric car production run and no on-site battery manufacturing equipment, is paying $522-$620 per kilowatt-hour, what about other automakers? 

Automakers like General Motors and Nissan for example, both of whom have made huge investments in battery pack production facilities and are producing plug-in cars on a scale that is orders of magnitude larger than Ford.

Could it be that for them, battery price has already dropped below the $500 per kilowatt-hour mark?

We think it’s highly likely, proving yet again that electric car battery prices are getting cheaper by the day.  

It also begs the simple question: if battery prices are falling, when will electric car sticker prices do the same?

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Comments (9)
  1. As I have been saying for about two years now, low volume Li-Ion battery packs can be purchased on the internet for less than $400/KWH. All the previous discussions on GCR of $1000/KWH based on industry experts seem to be off-the-mark.

    This data of $522/kwh, with Ford selling about only 10 Focus EVs so far shows that the cost is closer to $400/KWH than it is to $1000/KWH.

    Still, it shows the challenge. $12,000 for a battery pack would purchase a lot of gasoline, even at $4/gallon.

    If you have $12,000 of spare cash, at $4/gal, with a 40mpg car, you can drive 120,000 miles before you run out of cash.

    Well, then there is the environment, balance of trade...
     
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  2. not to mention health care cost savings - the trickle down is endless
     
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  3. Oh, and from the headline, I was hoping that the battery pack only cost $12. :)
     
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  4. Darn, now the headline is fixed and now the battery is $12,000. :(
     
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  5. Tesla Motors battery packs are most likely well under $400/kWh, based on the options pricing for the Model S and some vague statements from the company. According to a recent interview, CEO Musk expects their pack costs will be around $200/kWh by 2015, which falls in line with their 3-year battery advancement cycle, and which also falls in line with the timeline for the generation 3 sedan (the $30k model codenamed "Bluestar").
     
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  6. Guess if you order them by the dozen (considering Focus EV sales so far) rather than in any serious numbers you're not going to get much of a discount.
     
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  7. Tesla is known to have the cheapest batteries, at around $520
    per kilowatthour. Those are laptop batteries, produced in the billions. Neither Ford nor any other automaker can possibly have access to batteries that are more highly mass produced. And those
    prices include battery pack, cooling system, etc. "$12K to $15K" (a vague statement) might mean almost anything - we have no idea what the price includes.
    As for battery pricing - with respect to laptops used by Tesla, those prices have been dropping 6 percent or so per year for half a dozen years or so, according to Elon Musk, who should know.
    At that rate, Tesla's 300 mile battery pack costs roughly $40,000. And it might last 8 or 9 years or so.
     
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  8. Well, to be nitpicky, the cells used in the Roadster are literally laptop cells. The cells used in the Model S are the same form factor, the cylindrical 18650, but the chemistry inside is different, developed with Panasonic specifically for EV use. The 40kWh and 60kWh packs supposedly use one version, and the 85kWh pack uses the next generation. I do not have a link for that info anymore...it came out a while ago. It is suspected, based on what CEO Musk has said, that the 3rd generation platform (mass market platform, the sedan is due out in 2015) will be using a new generation of cells that are better than the ones in the 85kWh pack.
     
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  9. The Tesla Roadsters have been out for about 3 years. I wonder if there is any accurate data on cell degradation.
     
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