BMW: Electric Cars Will Always Be More Expensive Than Gas Cars

Batteries are expensive, and with demand for minerals used in their construction on the rise, they aren't about to get any cheaper.

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According to BMW, the cost of electric vehicles will never quite be comparable with internal combustion vehicles. Klaus Fröhlich, board representative for development at BMW, said that despite maturing battery technology and commercialization techniques, increasing demand for the minerals requisite to manufacturing modern batteries will keep battery prices high, which in turn will keep electric vehicle prices high.

"Never, never, never," Fröhlich said when asked by Cars Guide whether electric vehicle costs could approach that of internal combustion vehicles. "It is very simple. If you are at full scale, one kilowatt hour of battery capacity will cost between 100 and 150 [euros]. So this means if you see a car with 90 to 100 kilowatt-hours, the cell cost alone will be 10,000 to 15,000 [euros]."

At current euro-to-U.S. dollar exchange rates, this puts the price per kWh at $116 to $174, and the cost of a battery with 100 kWh of capacity at $11,600 to $17,400.

"You can produce whole cars just for the cost of the battery," said Fröhlich. "You don't have economies of scale. When everyone wants to use cobalt, the price of cobalt will not go down, it will go up. It's a nightmare that an electrified vehicle will cost the same as a combustion engine."

BMW's concern for mineral availability in a heavily electric future is well-documented. The automaker has stated that its fifth-generation "eDrive" electric motors will not use any rare-earth metals, decreasing the company's vulnerability to resource crises. 

Some industry figures believe that battery prices per kilowatt-hour could eventually fall as low as $80 in the 2020s. Companies such as Toyota and Fisker bank on the viability of graphene supercapacitor solid-state batteries, and given Ford's recent introduction of graphene on a commercial scale (albeit as reinforcing components), widespread use of graphene in the automotive industry may not be far off.