Meaningful numbers of plug-in electric cars decades away

According to the National Research Council….
Only a couple of days ago, we were a bit sceptic ourselves. Now this..

Report: Meaningful Numbers of Plug-In Hybrids Are Decades Away

The mass-introduction of the plug-in hybrid electric car is still a few decades away, according to new analysis by the National Research Council.

The study, released on Monday, also found that the next generation of plug-in hybrids could require hundreds of billions of dollars in government subsidies to take off.

Even then, plug-in hybrids would not have a significant impact on the nation’s oil consumption or carbon emissions before 2030. Savings in oil imports would also be modest, according to the report, which was financed with the help of the Energy Department.

Dozens of carmakers, including Toyota, General Motors and Nissan, are developing new plug-in hybrid, which will begin showing up in showrooms next year. (Toyota just announced today that “several tens of thousands” of plug-in Priuses would go on sale in 2012 2011.) These types of cars have both an electric and a gasoline-powered engine. They are built to run primarily on the electric battery, but if extra power is needed for a long drive, the gas engine eventually kicks in. Users are supposed to be able to recharge their cars by hooking them directly into electric power outlets at home or at work.

The report found that plug-in electric cars could number 40 million by 2030 — provided that rapid progress is made in battery technology and that the government provided hundreds of billions of dollars in subsidies and incentives. However, the study suggested that a “more realistic” scenario is closer to 13 million cars. That would represent 4 percent of the estimated 300 million cars that would be on the road by then.

The main reason behind this slow rollout relates to the cost of the batteries. Building a plug-in hybrid that can run for 40 miles on electricity costs $18,000 more than a similar conventional car, the report stated. While a mile driven on electricity costs less than one driven on gasoline, “it is likely to be several decades before lifetime fuel savings start to balance the higher first cost of the vehicles,” the report said.

“Lithium-ion-battery technology has been developing rapidly, especially at the cell level, but costs are still high, and the potential for dramatic reductions appears limited,” the report stated.