top of page

When will the perfect electric car be here?

Bob Kihslinger - 10001ways.com

May 2024

Electric car and charger
Wix images

Presently, there are 1.5 billion light duty vehicles in the world but only about 2% or 3% are electric.  While that is a small percentage, 18% of the cars, SUVs and pickup trucks sold last year around the globe were BEVs (Battery Electric Vehicles) and PHEVs (Plug in Hybrid Electric Vehicles). By some estimates, one in every four cars sold globally could be electric by the end of 2024.  


Besides being a critical piece of the solution to unbridled greenhouse gas emissions, EVs are fun to drive, less costly to fuel up and maintain, and full of mind boggling trinkets.   However, In recent months sales growth has slowed especially in the United States where only 8% of cars sold in 2023 were electric and projections for sales are about 11% in 2024 (plug in hybrids not included).  

.  

Why isn’t everyone rushing to buy BEVs in the U.S.?  What gives? 


Wix images

The answer is simple. Until now, early adopters who are willing to own and drive an electric car with all its warts, have driven the market, but the industry now needs mainstream America to buy in.  For most mainstream Americans, however,  BEVs cost too much, don’t go far enough on a charge, don’t charge fast enough, are filled with ethically sensitive precious metals, have a tendency to burst into flame, don’t perform well in cold weather, and don’t have enough convenient places to charge.


Other than that, they are just fine.  


Since the market will not explode until the early majority (roughly 33% of the population) is eager to buy in, it begs the question:  What will finally make them take out their wallet?  The answer, of course, is when the problems are fixed and the perfect electric car becomes available.  


wix AI created image

The Perfect Electric Car


So what does the perfect electric car look like?  Each person has preferences when it comes to a personal driving vehicle so let’s focus on the characteristics that the perfect car must have regardless of model, type and brand.  There are generally two perfect electric cars. They can be a sedan, suv or pickup truck. The first is a long range vehicle and the second a short range vehicle.  


Long range electric car


  1. It must be priced equal to or less than its internal combustion engine counterpart.

  2. It must go 400+ miles on a charge.

  3. It must fully charge in 15 minutes or less

  4. It must work well in cold weather

  5. It must not have cobalt or nickel in it but common elements instead

  6. It must be chemically stable (not burst into flame)

  7. It must have charging stations available every 25 miles along major highways.

  8. It must be bidirectional (able to power your house as well as your car)


Short range electric car


  1. It must be under $25,000 

  2. It must go at least 200 miles on a charge

  3. It must be chemically stable (not burst into flame)

  4. It must work well in cold weather

  5. It must be devoid of cobalt and nickel

  6. It must have a robust charging network available at home and work


Would you buy one of these cars if they were available?  If so, let’s speculate when that might be.


Current Trends


Before we predict when these cars will be available at scale, let’s highlight current trends in the BEV market that impact the answer.  As you will see, almost all of these trends are dependent on advanced battery technology which is developing so fast that if your information is 30 days old chances are you are behind.  


wix AI image

Price

For the time being, forget about the $7,500 IRA incentive.  You can add that in on your own.  Let’s just talk about an apple to apple price comparison (ICE vs BEV).  Estimates vary as to when BEVs will be the same price as cars with internal combustion engines (ICEs).  Some say as early as 2025 while others predict as late as 2027.  In China today 60% of electric cars sold are cheaper than their ICE equivalents although they are highly subsidized.


In fact BEVs around the globe are rapidly dropping in price.  Here are the factors responsible for this precipitous drop.



  • The number of battery plants completed or currently under construction (at least 30 in the U.S. alone) will ensure adequate volume of EV battery packs and reduce their cost through the scale of production.  




  • The competition from car makers is also heating up as a plethora of new EV models floods the market.  Since it is a global market all car manufacturers must cope with the dithering array of these new products and the various advanced batteries they employ.  On top of it all is the pricing pressure exerted by China who has declared war on the internal combustion engine.


small electric car
Wix AI image

Advent of the small electric car:

There is a sudden rush to produce smaller, low cost electric cars which are perfect products for commuters, second cars, student cars and urban vehicles.  China is already selling compact and subcompact models that cost between $10,000 and $15,000 thousand dollars in China thanks to massive government subsidies.  Countries like the United States are doing everything they can to keep such cars out since legacy car makers have yet to manufacture a similar low priced product. 


However, Tesla, Ford, GM and others are rushing to produce a low cost ($25,000 or less) EV for the US market.  According to their press releases these cars should start to show up in 2025 and 2026.  They are likely to use new battery technology and advanced production techniques to hit the targeted sticker price while using tariffs to ward off unfair trade practices.


Range:

The range for an electric car has been increasing at about 10% per year.  The new generation of  batteries is accelerating this trend.  Today many new models boast 300 to 400 miles per charge.  


In addition, a third generation battery, the semi-solid state battery, is finding its way into production.  These batteries have the capability to go 450 to 1000 miles on a charge and will be available in limited supply by the end of 2024.


The solid state battery, which can provide a range of 1,000 to 1,500 miles, is not likely to be produced at scale until 2028 or 2029.


Wix AI image

Charging Speed:  

Along with improved range, charging speeds are also a critical element of the perfect electric car.  The obstacles to rapid charging are daunting.  Weather, battery chemistry, number of cars being charged at any one time, charger capabilities and so on.   


There are already cars available that charge under 20 minutes with more on the way this year. New EVs with charging times that are 10 to 15 minutes will be rolling off assembly lines in late 2024.  There is currently a sodium Ion battery being tested with charging speeds measured in seconds not minutes.


As charging times drop, charging stations will be able to serve EVs more efficiently during the day’s charging cycles.  


Cold Weather performance  

When temperatures fall into the 30s serious drops in charging speed and range occurs.  I know, I own a 2022 ID4.   Iron phosphate, sodium ion and lithium ion batteries generally have performance and charging problems with cold weather.  However, several new batteries soon to be in production appear to be impervious to the ravages of frosty temperatures.   


car batteries
Yahoo News

Chemistry  

The race for safer, more efficient and powerful batteries is fierce indeed.  While waiting for the arrival of the solid state battery, few anticipated the creation of the iron phosphate battery, the sodium ion battery, the iron manganese phosphate battery and other batteries with chemical combinations that can meet all the requirements of the ‘perfect electric car’.  They now account for about 34% of installed battery packs  and most of the new battery plants under construction will be producing LFP batteries. 


Lithium will still be a major player in battery chemistries and everyone is in the hunt to produce more of it.  In the United States alone there are 100 lithium mining and drilling projects under way.  One optimistic source suggests that there will be three times the lithium available than will be needed. Don’t forget that while gasoline is not recyclable, EV car batteries are.  A robust recycling industry is already beginning to surface.   


Beny chargers

Charging Infrastructure:  

Until recently, the fast-charging network in the U.S. was  in abysmal shape.  There simply weren’t enough fast chargers and many were dysfunctional.  However, we now have about 8,200 fast charging stations in the United States which is one for every fifteen gas stations.  The Tesla network accounts for 25% of those chargers and is opening up to almost all manufacturers this year which will increase the total number of fast chargers to well over 10,000 fast chargers by the end of 2024.


In addition, the fast chargers promised by the Build Back Better legislation of 2022 are now being built.  The first quarter of 2024 saw 600 fast charging stations completed and, as state’s contract with charging companies, that number will increase exponentially.  By the end of 2025 there could be more than 20,000 fast charging stations in the United States.  


Walmart, IKEA, BP, Starbucks and truck stops like Love’s, Pilot and Flying J Travel Centers are just a few of the corporate entities that are building fast charging stations at their locations.  Seven car manufacturers in the U.S. have also combined their efforts to establish a chain of 30,000 fast chargers throughout the United States and will start building them this year. 


In all, more than 16,000,000 charging stations will be built between now and 2026 globally tripling the number available in 2023.  


Ford Motor Company

Bidirectional batteries:  

I have added bidirectional power to the list since it is a personal favorite and could be instrumental in managing the grid as more and more electric cars find their way into homes and businesses.  


Most manufacturers are likely to include this option in vehicles in the very near future.  It provides EV owners the option to power their homes as well as their car during power failures.  In addition, utility companies can offer programs that allow them to use the EV batteries in the garages of their owners to manage power distribution in times of stress.  


Don’t forget that bidirectional power will also give you the ability to electrify your tailgate party!


When will the perfect car be available?


Probably sooner than you think.  


The fact is that it is available in 2024 but you will have to live in China to get one.  I just spent several hours watching video of the 2024 Bejing Auto Show.  Dozens of BEVs with ranges between 400 and 1000 miles and prices under $35,000 were shown. 


electric car at auto show
Daily Excelsior - 2024 Beijing Auto Show

As we commented earlier, it’s all about the battery.  Thousands of patents are flying out the door and battery improvements are being made weekly.  One of the first batteries that will get us the car we are looking for is most likely the semi solid state Shenxing battery made by CATL.  It is currently under production with more than 50 different EV models installing it by the end of 2024 in China.  What that means is that any of these cars, depending on the size of the battery, could go between 400 and 750 miles on a charge, will charge in 10 to 20 minutes, will not have the same sensitivities to cold weather nor will they have the same chemical volatility as the lithium ion batteries used today.  


Ford and Tesla are partnering with CATL and may contract with them to build the shenxing battery in plants now under construction in the United States. The initial price of these cars in the United States is still unknown.  Volkswagen with their quantumscape solid state battery and BYD with their Blade battery aren’t far behind.  


The competition is fierce and every major car manufacturer knows what is at stake, namely their survival and that, in the end, is what is driving the market.  


In the meantime buckle your seat belt, the ride for the EV industry in the U.S. could be a little bumpy for the next 12 to 18 months while new technologies come on line and charging networks build out.  After that sales growth will be exponential and by 2030 EV sales in the U.S. should top 60% in market share.  Even then we will be trailing the rest of the world.


As for me, the lease on our Volkswagen ID4 is up in early 2026 and we fully expect that the perfect electric car will be waiting for us.


Comments


bottom of page