Skip to main content
Open Access Publications from the University of California

An Analysis of the Retail and Lifecycle Cost of Battery-Powered Electric Vehicles


Regulators, policy analysts, automobile manufacturers, environmental groups, and others are debating the merits of policies regarding the development and use of battery-powered electric vehicles (BPEVs). At the crux of this debate is lifecycle cost: the annualized initial vehicle cost, plus annual operating and maintenance costs, plus battery replacement costs. To address this issue of cost, we have developed a detailed model of the performance, energy use, manufacturing costs, retail costs, and lifecycle cost of electric vehicles and comparable gasoline internal-combustion engine vehicles (ICEVs). This effort is an improvement over most previous studies of electric vehicle costs because instead of assuming important parameter values for such variables as vehicle efficiency and battery costs, we model these values in detail. We find that in order for electric vehicles to be cost-competitive with gasoline ICEVs, batteries must have a lower manufacturing cost, and a longer life, than the best lithium-ion and nickel-metal hydride batteries we modeled. We believe that it is most important to reduce the battery manufacturing cost to $100/kWh or less, attain a cycle life of 1200 or more and a calendar life of 12 years or more, and aim for a specific energy of around 100 Wh/kg.

Main Content
For improved accessibility of PDF content, download the file to your device.
Current View