As you get older, you begin to realize that some things just aren’t possible, no matter how badly you want them. Part of becoming an adult is drawing that line in the sand between fantasy and reality, and accepting that Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy and honest politicians simply don’t exist. Break from that reality often enough and you’ll wind up heavily medicated, living in a padded cell without a view, holding in-depth conversations with the voices in your head. The United States Energy Secretary, Steven Chu, appears to be going down the path to three-hots-and-a-cot himself, based on a a recent story in the Los Angeles Times.
Chu, it seems, believes that an EV with a 350 mile range, at a price point of $25,000, is possible in the next six years. His belief is based on the research funded by the DOE, which seeks to reduce battery cost by 50% over the next four years while doubling or tripling their energy density in six years. Six years isn’t much time to make a quantum leap in science that hasn’t occurred, despite billions of dollars spent in research and development, over the past 100 years. It’s like the old “Far Side” cartoon, where the scientist is feverishly working on a massively complex equation on a chalkboard. Stumped, he writes in “And then a miracle occurs” to solve the problem.
That’s funny when Gary Larson draws it, but it’s frightening when the head of a federal agency makes public comments based on the same scenario. I’m not anti-EV, but I am realistic about where we are in their development today. I’m not a research scientist, nor do I play one on TV, but I see the evolution of the EV as an evolutionary process, not a revolutionary one. In six years, I’d expect to see EVs with a legitimate, 150 mile “worst case” range at a price point of $30k or so, which will make them a viable solution for more drivers than the EVs available today. Serial hybrids, like the Chevy Volt or the Fisker Karma, are likely to be the best interim solution until battery technology improves in both price and energy density. I seriously doubt that anyone can point to a timeline on that, because it requires several break-throughs in materials science.
You can feel free to ask Santa Claus for a quantum leap in battery technology over the next few years, but I’m pretty sure I know what the result will be.
Source: The Los Angeles Times