Electric Cars Could Be As Affordable as Conventional Vehicles In Just Three Years

A BMW electric vehicle at a road-side charging station in Budapest, Hungary.

A BMW electric vehicle at a road-side charging station in Budapest, Hungary. Albert Lugosi/Wikimedia Commons

Electric vehicles will be cost-competitive with combustion-engine cars by 2022, according to a new report by transportation analysts at Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF). The trend is due to the plunging price of EV batteries. Batteries made up 57 percent of an electric vehicle’s total costs in 2015. Today, that number is down to 33 percent, and it is expected to drop to 20 percent by 2025.

The new forecast highlights the rapid development of EV technologies globally. BNEF first suggested in 2017 that electric cars would become cost-competitive with conventional cars in 2026. A year later, BNEF changed it to 2024. The analysts argue that this competitive pricing will allow customers to make a choice between a combustion or electric car based on style, performance, and preference — not cost.

BNEF also notes that the cost of electric powertrain systems is also dropping. By 2030, costs for motors, inverters, and power electronics could be 25 to 30 percent cheaper than today. The affordability of EVs will also be helped by a modest rise in costs for combustion vehicles as they utilize lighter-weight materials or other technologies to meet fuel efficiency targets.

And as Nathaniel Bullard, an analyst with BNEF, writes on Bloomberg Opinion, cheaper electric vehicle batteries don’t “just mean cheaper electric passenger cars. It also means all sorts of other vehicles that weren’t previously practical to electrify now are.” Bullard points to a new all-electric excavator developed by Komatsu Ltd., Asia’s top construction equipment maker.