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EV Battery Use Trumps Hybrid Battery Use

Plug-in electric cars are still a very small percentage of the market compared to conventional hybrid cars, but their battery capacity is not so small. With plug-in car sales growing in leaps and bounds, their annual battery use already trump the annual battery use of hybrids, but what about all time use?

According to one Green Car Reports calculation, “electric cars to date have used as much battery capacity as every hybrid built in the past 17 years.”

Green Car Reports asked two of its contributors to estimate the relative battery capacity total for electric-car versus hybrid sales. One of them tackled 2013 sales while the other one tackled total cumulative sales.

John C. Briggs “looked at U.S. sales for a single year (2013), estimated average hybrid battery-pack size at 1.1 kWh, listed the highest-selling models, weighted plug-in sales by pack size” and concluded that battery capacity for plug-in electric vehicles versus hybrid vehicles was as follows:

  • Plug-in electric vehicles: 2,500,000 kWh
  • Hybrid vehicles: 500,000 kWh




Brian Henderson worked on totals vehicle sales worldwide since 1997 (which is when the Toyota Prius got going on the market in Japan). Naturally, this was a much more challenging calculation.

Henderson’s estimates were a 10-to-1 ratio for electric-vs-hybrid pack size. John Voelcker of Green Car Reports considered this a bit low. Due to the sizes of plug-in pack sizes varying more than hybrid packs, it’s a hard calculation to make. But John goes with an estimate based more on the top-selling cars in each bracket. “Taking Toyota’s 1.4-kWh hybrid pack and the 24-kWh pack of the world’s best-selling electric car, the Nissan Leaf, as representative averages, we get a ratio of about 17-to-1.”

Any way you slice it, though, this is one of the harder assumptions to make on the plug-in car side. “Today’s plug-in packs range from the 4.4 kWh in the Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid to the 85-kWh pack in the top Tesla Model S–a size difference of 20 times. Hybrid packs vary only from the 0.6 kWh of a Honda or GM mild hybrid to the 2.4 kWh of a large full-hybrid SUV,” John also noted.

Based on Brian’s assumptions, plug-in cars will surpass hybrids by the end of the year. Based on John’s, that actually happened several months ago.

The primary focus of the query was to realize how high the demand for lithium-ion batteries will be as purchases of plug-in electric cars increase. They are going to increase a lot in the next few years. Tesla has finalized its location for its first gigafactory, and the company is on track to produce its affordable Model 3 electric car in 2017 or 2018, which should see big sales. But with battery costs dropping fast in general, plenty of other electric car manufacturers will have to find a way to reach their capacity needs as well. Meanwhile other companies are still jumping into the electric vehicle market.

On that note, Foxconn’s CEO, Terry Gou, has said that he would like to get electric car prices down to $15,000. Although the company has a reputation of question, it has reached a deal with BYD to start an EV rental car business in June. It sounds as if Foxcon is similarly inspired by Elon Musk and what he intends to achieve with Tesla’s gigafactory.

Related Stories:

Foxconn Building $814 Million Battery Factory

New RMI Project Aims To Sustain Battery Cost Reduction

Tesla Gigafactory Headed To Nevada (Unofficial Leak)

Nissan LEAF Replacement Battery Priced At $5,499

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Written By

Cynthia Shahan started writing after previously doing research and publishing work on natural birth practices. (Several unrelated publications) She is a licensed health care provider. She studied and practiced both Waldorf education, and Montessori education, mother of four unconditionally loving spirits.


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