Sunday, January 20, 2008

Khosla and the Electric Car

We rely on scientists and companies like Khosla Ventures to bring battery costs down so that the electric vehicle can be in the majority. Khosla doesn't seem too confident yet. But there are many types of batteries like the fuel cell running on hydrogen that could well be the way we go. It remains then for companies like Ausra to complete the picture and the motor industry would then be carbon free from hydrogen produced from solar thermal power plants. Luckily Ausra (another Khosla interest) are building large scale power plants now based on much more mature technology.
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I am open and hopeful, especially longer term, on serial plug-in hybrids (a point I'll address in Part III). Price still remains a major issue. Even for serial hybrids, the ability to keep cost, or at least monthly payments, close to that of a regular ICE (internal combustion engine) car is unclear. Maybe another blogger with knowledge of practical automotive costs can detail the likely trajectory of serial hybrid costs (say, with a typical 40-mile "battery range"), as this remains the critical question.

I believe that battery costs will decline and performance increases will continue, but my review of the technology suggests that the upside with known chemistries is limited to maybe 2-4x change in cost per kwh of capacity -- a significant improvement to be sure, but not nearly enough to change the hybrid or plug-in hybrid cost dynamic.

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