Dr. Steven Chu, U.S. Secretary of Energy
Electric cars have traditionally been more costly to build and buy than their gasoline counterparts thanks to their limited production numbers and the high cost of battery packs.
We already know that the price of electric car battery packs are dropping faster than analysts predicted they would, but how long before electric cars become more affordable?
According to U.S. Secretary of Energy Dr. Steven Chu, affordable electric cars are around a decade away.
Speaking at an event in Dearborn last week, Chu said that he expected U.S. automakers and suppliers to be testing electric cars by 2020 that cost significantly less to manufacture than today’s production electric cars.
Three years after that, he predicts, they will go on sale for prices of less than $25,000.
Of course, we're already seeing cars in Europe reach this kind of price point: The 2013 Renault Zoe, for example, is predicted to cost less than $25,000 when it launches later this year. However, the purchase price doesn't include the price of the battery pack, which must be leased separately.
Chu, on the other hand, is talking about a car that costs $25,000 to buy, inclusive of battery costs.
Renault ZOE electric car live photos
Renault ZOE electric car live photosEnlarge Photo
“Realistically, we think a plug-in hybrid --30, 40 miles, 50 miles -- or a car at maybe double the range can satisfy a lot of needs,” Chu explained. “And there, we think the price point at $25,000 is a very real price that we can maybe achieve in a decade.”
Today, $25,000 will buy you a lot of car for your money, including the fuel-sipping 2012 Toyota Prius C.
But in ten years, even at modest inflation rates, a $25,000 car could be the equivalent of a $23,000 car today.
In other words, it’s possible we’ll see electric cars in ten years’ time with prices that compete with entry and mid-priced gasoline cars.
Would you buy an electric car if it was priced at $23,000? What other things would you need to seal the deal?
Let us know in the comments below.