Recent years have seen many people’s expectations for the electric vehicle industry begin to fade from the lofty heights of the industry’s early years, this has led many industry experts to recalibrate their predictions for the ultimate EV breakthrough. Ever since the industry’s dawn there has been no shortage of experts and analysts offering their own visions for the EV industry. Therefore, it comes as little surprise to find current analysts significantly divided on their predictions for the industry’s development.

Respected EV industry figures such as long-time EV activist, Nissan Leaf salesman Paul Scott, among the founders of EV advocate organization Plug In America, approaches the industry from a market driven perspective. Scott suggests that the coming tipping point for truly significant public adoption will come only when mass-market EVs reach range limits consumers feel comfortable with, an argument which is thoroughly supported by past surveys of prospective EV buyers and their concerns regarding the viability of EVs as every-day vehicles. Scott argues that the affordable version of Tesla’s EV, tentatively scheduled for release in 2017, will easily trump consumers’ range anxiety with its promised range estimate which exceeds 300 km on a single charge. Furthermore, the vehicle is rumored to retail for approximately $35,000 before tax breaks, therefore placing it in the same league as Chevy’s second generation Volt or future generations of the Nissan Leaf, which fall well short of Tesla’s 300km range estimate and, thus, opening a whole new section of the consumer market to electric vehicle ownership.

Offering a similarly technologically focused perspective is Stanford University energy expert  and author of the book Solar Trillions Tony Seba, who agrees with Scott’s vision in as much as the coming shift will be motivated by an expansion of battery capacity. Seba’s opinion is rooted in the consistently declining cost of battery packs and the savings which these bring directly to end-consumers. Seba observes that the cost curve of batteries is falling ever more quickly as the years progress and technology advances, the latest estimates from Detroit automakers suggest that lithium-ion batteries will reach $US 200/kWh by 2020. Seba believes that by 2030 battery makers will have long surpassed the crucial tipping point he places at somewhere between $250 and $300/kWh, with the low-end of this tipping point range set to be achieved as early as 2020, a development which he argues will essentially make gasoline burning vehicles obsolete.

Therefore, while these industry experts may differ slightly in the ultimate dates they set for the predicted mass-market adoption tipping point, Scott’s 2017 versus Seba’s 2020, the one aspect which they are generally in agreement on is the inherently crucial role which battery technology, specifically as it relates to capacity rather than charging speed, plays in achieving mass-market appeal.

Sources:” Paul Scott predicts electric car tipping point in 2017 at EV Summit 2013”  at Torque News

“How solar and EVs will kill the last of the industry dinosaurs” at REneweconomy

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