Spring 2012 (Vol.51, No.1)

Electrified Vehicle Technology Trends, Infrastructure Implications and Cost Comparisons

Abstract

Alternatives to petroleum-based fuels for transportation are sought to address concerns over
climate change and energy security. Key semiconductor, software, and battery technologies have
sufficiently progressed over the past few decades to enable a mass-market-viable plug-in electric
vehicle (PEV) alternative. In this paper, the various PEV architectures are described, including
market availability, technologies and trends, practical ranges, battery replacement and power
costs, implications for grid operations, and other developments. Manufacturers’ recently announced
prices and EPA standardized test data are used (where available) to increase the accuracy of cost
comparisons for competing vehicles. Results indicate that in relatively low fuel-cost regions, like the
U.S., PEVs enjoy a positive discounted net present value, thanks to tax credits and assuming that the
original battery does not need replacement by the owner. Even without the tax credits, PEVs offer
financial payback for those residing in higher fuel-cost regions, as long as their batteries last the
vehicle’s lifetime or are replaced by manufacturers (under warranty).

by David P. Tuttle and Kara M. Kockelman

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