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Published on October 5th, 2015 | by James Ayre


Chevy Bolt Battery Cells = $145/kWh, New Chevy Volt With Autonomous Driving

October 5th, 2015 by  

Originally published on EV Obsession.

GM’s electric vehicle (EV) ambitions seem to be shaping up nicely going on recent comments made at an investor conference. Amongst the interesting comments, one stood out in particular: The company is now claiming that the launch of the Bolt EV will be accompanied by battery cell costs of just $145 kilowatt-hour (kWh) — very low. Impressive numbers if they pan out.

GM Battery Electric Vehicles 2

While $145/kWh is already low, GM is projecting they will get down to $100/kWh by 2022, as you can see in the graph above.

GM Battery Electric Vehicles 1

GM Battery Electric Vehicles 3

Other interesting comments include: the assertion that the Bolt EV will definitely be launched by the end of next year (by the end of 2016); a note about the current Chevy Volt already possessing much of the hardware needed for autonomous driving modes; and the very interesting comment that the profit margin for the 2016 Volt plug-in (PHEV) is $3,500 higher than the profit margin for the first generation Volt. (Thanks to “bro1999” on the GM Volt forums for this.)

On the subject of the future of the company’s interest in the (potential) autonomous car sector, things are apparently starting to heat up. The company will soon be deploying a fleet of autonomous 2017 Chevy Volts at its Warren Technical Center campus. Employees at the facility will be able to book rides from the autonomous Volts through a carsharing app designed by the company. “Basically, you press a button on an app on your smartphone, and the car comes to pick you up,” Anton Wahlman summarizes.

GM Autonomous Driving 3 GM Autonomous Driving 2

Data gathered during this deployment will be used to further the aims of the company’s autonomous vehicle team.

On that note, GM recently revealed that a “Super Cruise” autonomous feature will be deployed as part of the upcoming 2017 Cadillac CT6.

On this and other topics, GM CEO Mary Barra recently stated: “The convergence of rapidly improving technology and changing consumer preferences is creating an inflection point for the transportation industry not seen in decades. Some might find this massive change to be daunting, but we look at it and see the opportunity to be a disruptor. We believe our decades of leadership in vehicle connectivity is fundamental to our quest to redefine the future of personal mobility.”

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About the Author

James Ayre’s background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy. You can follow his work on Google+.

  • AmericaPutFirst

    I always wonder what a driver less car will look like on ice.

    • Bob_Wallace

      I would guess better than almost all human drivers on ice. The cars would sense traction loss far faster and make a decision as to which direction to turn the wheel must faster.

      And the car would likely maintain a speed at which traction was possible, unlike most humans.

      We can engineer very smart autonomous vehicles, we haven’t figured out a way to engineer smart drivers.

  • AmericaPutFirst

    Hope they do a Made In USA Buick Version.

  • Great article. Thanks, James. This $100/kWh cost expectation in 2022 is big news.

  • Jonathan Wankasky

    drive an ev now make thing cheaper later. I remember when flat panels were 6000 to 8,000 dollars the people that bought those made it possible for the current crop of flat panels to be sold so cheap. I hope the same will happen to the electric car.

  • Jonathan Wankasky

    The battery is nearly half the cost of most current EV’s so this car could come in under 30,000 dollars. Say bye to the Nissan leaf. Battery $ 8,700 for 60KWH battery and going down quick. Also onstar and wifi standard. The kids would love to watch netflix in the back seat. Standard motor is nearly $ 5,000 dollars to build but the savings could come in the faster production. Drive train in a fuel car takes 45 min to install and in a electric car under 3 mins. and not to mention 59 fewer parts. Gone all emissions and sensors. No belts, No water pump, No Starters, Plugs, No rack, No heat, No gas in fact the story has always been the same when it come to electric cars its all about the battery and if you make it cheap the gas car will soon be extinct. Electric car are far more reliable and think about how it would effect the middle east. No Gas, No Oil, No Money and broke ISIS. I think I could sleep much better at night

    • Bob_Wallace

      If it could be sold for under $30k with $145/kWh batteries then it could be sold for around $25k when battery prices drop to $100/kWh?

      A 200 mile range $25k EV and a shorter range (150 mile?) plain Jane EV for less than $20k should pretty much kill off petroleum.

      People would likely be willing to pay a bit more for EVs if fuel savings more than covered the additional loan payment.

      • Jenny Sommer

        But please make it bigger.
        By the time we can buy a sub 20k€ compact van my kids will drive their own cars.

      • juxx0r

        Hi Bob, i like your optimism, as always, some might say you’re an oracle, but purely mathematically, that would involve a 100kWh battery pack to get that, and at 300wh/mile it’d only be 60kWh for that, which would take it to more than $25k. Also this is only the cell cost, you have to add the pack cost to the cell cost.

        • Bob_Wallace

          Tesla’s 60 kWh ModS got an EPA range rating of 208 miles. The S is a pretty big car. A smaller, lighter EV should be able to get that sort of mileage with 50 kWh (or something close to that).

          As you cut vehicle weight and cut batteries needed you also cut battery weight. And cutting battery weight means that you need fewer batteries.

          Here’s something else to throw into the mix. Battery capacity is increasing. More energy stored per kg. Lighter batteries and that means less ….

          Here’s an interesting read on EVs and batteries. If you’re in a hurry skip down to “Model III and the Knock-On Effect”


          Expectations are that cell price will drop to $100/kWh when the Gigafactory is running and fully “tuned up”. That would make for a $130/kWh battery pack. 50 kWh of $130/kWh packs would mean $6,500 for batteries. An econobox EV with a 150 mile range might be able to get by with 35 kWh, so $3.5k for batteries.”

          Orical? I see myself as a self-appointed scout who probes the enemy’s lines, looking for a way forward.

          • juxx0r

            Yep, but 50kWh at 180/kWh going to $130/kWh doesn’t equate to $30k going to $25k.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Didn’t we start with 60 kWh? (You said 100 kWh so I’m a bit confused about the details at this point.) Let’s cycle back….

            Jonathon –

            “The battery is nearly half the cost of most current EV’s so this car could come in under 30,000 dollars. Say bye to the Nissan leaf. Battery $ 8,700 for 60KWH battery and going down quick.”

            60 kWh, $145/kWh, <$30,000, Batteries = $8,700

            Me, probably more like 50 kWh, $130/kWh, "around $25k", Batteries = $6,500.

            That's $2,200 less than <$30,000 which is around $25,000, depending on the size of one's "<" and one's "around".

          • juxx0r

            I’m confused. As you were.

  • mike_dyke

    At $145/kWh that means that the 10kwh powerwall is approx $1450 for the batteries – add on a bit for case/electrics/profit and you’re looking at $2000 or just over half of the original selling price of $3500.

    I’m liking those figures!

    • vensonata

      That is right! I am thinking more of the 7 kwh powerwall which, at $3000, is $428 kwh. At $145 x 7 = $1015. Add the electrical and $1500 is conceivable. That would mean storage at 5 cents kwh. The only problem is, what chemistry is the battery? If the Bolt is using low lifecycle batteries then the price is irrelevant. This is always the first question to ask from battery makers: how many lifetime cycles?

    • Jens Stubbe

      I think the Powerwall comes with a guaranteed 10kWh storage capacity so in reality it holds approximately 20% extra cell capacity to meet the guarantee and to avoid deep cycling that damage the battery, so $100/kWh cells will not give you $2.000/Powerwall – you would have to lower the price slightly more.

  • Steve N

    1% of the world wide car market is about 1,000,000 cars. So now we have a real shot at getting to 1,000,000 plus EVs being sold world wide by 2020.
    Add in automated driving to shrink the car market anywhere between 15-50% and we could be making some very serious head way.
    Put that out 5 more years and by 2025 we could be pushing well over 25-30% of the market being EVs. Let’s hope the rest of the big car makers are forced on board.
    I would start selling your oil stocks.

    • Calamity_Jean

      “I would start selling your oil stocks.”

      I already sold mine. Good riddance.

      “Put that out 5 more years and by 2025 we could be pushing well over 25-30% of the market being EVs.”

      Gas stations are already having trouble staying in business. When electrics get to even 20% of the car market, the number of gas stations will drop like a rock. The last gasmobiles will go to the crusher because they are too hard to get fuel for, not because they are worn out.

      And EVs by being a “dispatchable load” will help promote the acceptance of renewable electricity generation. Turning EVs’ charging on and off could help balance the variability of wind and solar power. Inexpensive solar and wind could in turn make EV charging cheaper.

      • I’ve played with models for the anticipated (well, certainly by me!) changeover from smokers to EVs, based on other disruptive technologies that have succeeded in my lifetime, and I believe EVs will likely take longer than 2025 to reach a quarter of the market.

        The problem is that the average life of an ICE vehicle is almost 15 years, and the tipping point where mainstream thought begins to see the new technology as inevitable and begins buying without hesitation seems to be around twice the average product lifespan.

        If we take 2010, around the Tesla announcement (given its excellent market reception), as the start of the shift, that would mean EVs might exceed half the market by around 2040, putting a quarter of the market near 2030, since these trends seem to typically accelerate over time.

        However, I really like your timeline better than mine. I hope you’re right and I’m wrong! 🙂

        • Bob_Wallace

          New car purchasers drive a lot more than people who drive older cars. 50% of all US car driving is done with cars five years old or newer. High mileage drivers (>13,000 per year) will benefit more from fuel savings than the average driver, which means that it will make sense to pay something extra for an EV.

          I don’t know how much that might drive the market, but it could push the market.

          People who want to do something, personally, to help fight climate change might pay a bit extra for an EV. That’s another possible forcing factor.

          Then there’s the “cool factor”. Driving the latest thing. As well as leaving everyone else sitting at the red light.

          Finally, there’s a chance that the 15 year average is pushed out by a number of cars that linger for many years while being driven little. It may be that there’s a lot of “churning” that happens with cars that average less than 15 years. A lot of cars that go to the crusher by the age of 15.

          Breaking! ;o)

          I just saw a Forbes article that says the average age of US cars is now 11.5 years.


          eta: Are we exporting a lot of used cars?

          And all that said – I can see EVs being only 25% of new cars sales by 2025 simply because of supply limitations. The major manufacturers are only toying with EVs. GM is talking limited manufacturing of only 30,000 EVs the first year of their Bolt.

          It would take a lot of concerted effort to have the battery plant capacity for more than 22.5 million new cars by 2025. I don’t think we’ll see any serious movement from most manufacturers until after GM and Tesla get their 200 mile affordable EVs on the road and buyer interest is proven.

          • OneHundredbyFifty

            ” I don’t think we’ll see any serious movement from most manufacturers
            until after GM and Tesla get their 200 mile affordable EVs on the road
            and buyer interest is proven.”

            But I think they are laying the ground work to be ready to ramp as the market proves out. Pretty much all of them have serious EV development under way.

            22M is a challenging figure. However, I agree the hard part of this is hitting volume for the batteries. LG and Tesla are already positioned to scale that and I don’t think it is hard to scale electric motors. That leaves the car companies doing what they already know how to do – brakes, styling, bodies, glass, painting, interiors and marketing.

            Regarding batteries, remember, in order to build the first gigafactory Tesla prepped an additional 3 ( or was it 4) sites. Once they have the GF up and running it should be pretty quick to ramp the additional factories as needed and remember, for those 4 the time consuming up front approvals are already done.

            I would add that subsequent approvals will likely go more smoothly as other states see exactly what it is they missed out on. 6500 jobs that pay well provides a significant economic boost for any state. And when it is no longer a speculative venture, no doubt Tesla will have pretty nice options for subsequent siting.

        • “smoker to EVs” — love it! 😀

      • “Gas stations are already having trouble staying in business. When electrics get to even 20% of the car market, the number of gas stations will drop like a rock.”
        -I think this is a huge thing that doesn’t get acknowledged enough.

  • RexxSee

    Disclosing 145$ is a strategic move. I’m sure they already pay much less than that.
    They have to justify the high price of their hybrid and up coming BEV.

    • I don’t think it’s legal to present false information in a financials/investors presentation like that.

      • Bob_Wallace

        Correct. That would leave the company open to a suit from a stockholder who might argue that they were mislead by the misinformation and suffered a loss when they bought/sold stock based on what the company claimed.

        • RexxSee

          There are many ways to hide transactions.

      • Russell

        So how much do you guys actually believe their $145 then? I’m not sure I do, but if its illegal to say it when its not true, then that really does mean something.

        • Bob_Wallace

          I find it fairly believable. Aside from the fact that it would be financially risky for GM to make an incorrect claim.

          We had information from a major research group last October that Tesla was paying Panasonic $180/kWh for cells and I’ve seen claims since that the price had fallen to $160. It’s expected that prices will fall to $130 when the Gigafactory is running, making complete battery packs about $150/kWh.

          $145/kWh, if that’s a cell price, fits in with the P/T prices. A little higher than the predicted Panasonic cell price of $130.

          A breakdown of the materials that are used for Panasonic cells finds the cost about $70/kWh using current market price. It’s anticipated that cell price will drop to about $100. Cell prices might go even lower if very large scale EV manufacturing creates drops in materials costs.

  • vensonata

    How many kwh in the bolt battery? Once we know that we can do the math. For a reliable 200 miles it probably needs 60kwh, and that would be 60×145=$8700. That is cell cost. But at $35,000 they have $26,300 minus profit to build the rest of the car.

    • Adrian

      The Encore base MSRP is $25k, and the Trax is just over $20k, so there is plenty of budget for the rest of the car. GM was saying it would sell for $35k AFTER REBATE so it leaves $33.8k to build the rest of the car + profit.

      For the naysayers, remember the original Volt was near that price at launch, when optioned nicely, and the Spark EV is in the 30’s with 3x less battery.

      Maybe GM can spend the balance on fast-charge infrastructure?

    • eveee

      Depends on aero drag.

  • Marion Meads

    And Kudos to the GM Team! There are no cheating involved here when it comes to battery ranges and prices, no extreme qualifiers that others forgot to mention when overhyping the ranges and prices of their cars, no cheating the emissions from GM either.

    • Adrian

      We don’t actually know that yet Marion, we have to take GM’s word for it at the moment. Specs haven’t even been shared yet, only targets.

  • Richard Foster

    I’m confused by the top graphic on costs.

    They’re effectively saying that current battery prices are $145/kWh which is great. But then prices will stagnate at that level for 4 years (until 2019)? This doesn’t make sense given the current falling in prices seen across the market.

    If $145/kWh is the true cost now, I’d expect the $100/kWh barrier to be breached before 2019, never mind 2022.

    • Marion Meads

      The timing could be related to the completion of “Gigafactory” of GM’s partners. Who knows if one of their partners already achieved manufacturing breakthroughs to reduce the prices without leaking anything about it, and may take some time to build it. Hopefully there will be competition between Tesla’s gigfactory and that of GM’s invested partners. We need many more gigafactories to push the EV adoption faster and faster!

    • Adrian

      GM may have locked that price in from LG for the first few years, where LG might lose money at first but make it up in the last couple years of the contract.

      • Richard Foster

        According that graphic, the price is only fixed to 2017, everything else beyond is forecasted, so that can’t be the case?

        If it’s $145 now, then given the current trajectory of battery prices, it’ll be lower in 2017 for sure.

    • RexxSee

      This is disinformation. The batteries are entering the same exponential curve that solar panels hit 5 years ago. Demand is soaring while prices are falling
      When solar reached the point where the electricity cost less than coal, the demand skyrocketed. This market is nowfull speed ahead!

      • Richard Foster

        Not quite. Supply of batteries doesn’t quite match demand, so price falls will be modulated by that.

        • RexxSee

          Yes this is why Tesla built the GigaFactory1, but it’s quickly changing now, other car makers have no choice but to order at last more batteries.

    • eveee

      I smell a marketing graphic here. More real would be a photo of the battery production assembly factory. Its easy to ship data sheets in volume. 🙂

  • Marion Meads

    I would very much like to see the tweet from Musk about this one. Will Musk bring the price of the batteries way down and also sell to others, or he will just tweet that it is lower and only his company uses them? Let there be real price war instead of tweets from Musk, for the benefit of all!

    • Kyle Field

      Tesla is charging a premium for their batteries by charging a premium for their cars. I don’t think this model will work for home storage as they have less innovative flexibility there but for the time being, I can’t imagine them selling any batteries externally as long as their EV volume remains strong.

    • Make $ 8500 to $ 11500 per month onl!!inee. All you just Need an Internet Connection and a Computer To Make Some Extra cash.Visit My Pro file for more info..vdfd..

      • eveee


        • Bob_Wallace

          A-holes are busy today.

          • roadkill612

            Now i wonder what was said? 🙂

          • It was likely a spammer telling us how their cousin made $20K/month working online or something like that. Get a ton of these everyday.

          • roadkill612

            Quite so Zachary, but i lie awake nights wondering if maybe something up there with e=mc2 has been lost to us all cos of a moderator who didn’t get it:)

          • Bob_Wallace

            In the last 24 hours we’ve been hit with 19 “work from home” spams, one spam in Arabic so I can’t tell you what that guy was peddling, and three posts from someone who obviously is in need of professional help.

            It’s been a slow day….

          • roadkill612

            Only messin Bob. Hope am not causing you grief. I sent 3 posts on this. Hmmm?

  • newnodm

    But…But… they don’t have a gigafactory! I’m quite sure, from what I read online, that only Musk can build inexpensive batteries.

    • RexxSee

      This is false. Giant car makers have 100 times the means and facilities GM=99 factories) to build cars. And they have also the power to order larger quantities of batteries with a much larger economy of scale cost.
      They use bloated high price of the batteries to justify too high priced EVS, protecting their lucrative ICE car market. Since the electric motor and the controls are prooved cheap technology, the only possible scapegoat is the batteries.

      • Judging by the names of cars and SUVs models in the parking lots here, these people are building forts with moats not efficient balanced budgets in the future.

    • eveee

      Your skepticism is justified. Where is the factory?

    • Bob_Wallace

      Then that was poor reading on your part.

      Tesla is scaling up battery manufacturing which should give them much less expensive batteries. So is BYD and, LG Chem.

      Other battery manufacturers such as Alevo and BMZ as scaling large in order to produce inexpensive batteries for non-EV storage.

    • Looks like LG Chem keeps expanding its battery production capability. new plant planned for Europe (possibly my city!) will bring its capacity up to 400,000 EV batteries a year: http://evobsession.com/lg-chem-to-open-ev-battery-factory-in-wroclaw-poland-my-city/

    • But I think you were being sarcastic/playful here. 😀

      • newnodm

        Just sarcastic. I’ve seen people even suggest that battery volume is a problem for Apple releasing a car. Apple buys millions of batteries a month. Apple can order, with a year or two lead time, all the batteries they need. LG, Samsung, Panasonic and probably some chinese firms are capable of ramping up and making huge quantities of inexpensive batteries.

        The gigafactory may be a good choice for Tesla, but it doesn’t put them in a unique position. They are simply the only company willing to talk about long term production plans.

        • Bob_Wallace

          Apple could likely release a car with a year or two ahead of time contract with battery suppliers. But to go volume would likely take three to four years.

          GM is likely to suck up any extra that LG Chem can produce in the next couple of years. Panasonic is entering the storage market in Europe. China is putting a bit push to get a million EVs on their roads.

        • Apple would be in a very good position in this case. Suppliers would take Apple very seriously. Of course, the suppliers need time to find land, construct a factory, get their suppliers on board, etc., but this is certainly someplace Apple would have an upper hand, imho.

  • Martin

    Will the autonomous driving help with city gridlock and reduce accidents?
    And how will autonomous driving affect insurance rates, higher, lower or neutral?

    • Bob_Wallace

      Autonomous driving should greatly reduce gridlock and accidents.

      Cars will be able to drive closer together. Rear end accidents that block traffic will gradually disappear. City streets will flow quicker because self-driving cars will park themselves quicker or drop off passengers and zip off to where parking is available. No more getting stuck behind someone cruising for a parking spot or waiting for another car to pull out.

      There will likely be fewer cars on the road because the same car can haul in a 7:30 worker, fetch an 8:00 worker, then an 8:30 worker, ….

      Insurance rates will almost certainly go down. Insurance companies have been discussing that for a while and at least one has been talking about how they will need to change what they insure as their auto insurance business shrinks.

      • Radical Ignorant

        Interesting that insurance companies can go to hell. What if carmaker agree to pay premium for every accident since probability will be so low and will depend on quality of their product instead of driver skills?

        • Bob_Wallace

          That just makes the car companies into car insurance companies and whatever hate you’ve developed for insurance companies will likely migrate to car companies.

          • Radical Ignorant

            No, it won’t. Assumption is that risk is super small, so the business will be marginal. Just required by law, but not much money in it. Simple simplification of customer service. You don’t need to deal with insurance companies. You don’t need to deal with maintaining car – since it’ll be autonomous you just agree for it to be out for few hours when it will go for service. You just buy it and it’s to your service when you need it and never asks for your attention when you have other things to do.
            P.S. I don’t hate insurance companies. I just sincerely dislike all forced on me financial services and buraeucracy.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Acceptance of risk is what we call insurance.

            You’re still going to have to pay a premium, deal with claims, pay deductibles.

          • Radical Ignorant

            That’s usles definition. According to it everything is insurance. Life is insurance, as you risk being shoot going on the street or risk being ill eating food. Every business is a risk and it’s not insurance until it’s core is to maintain risk. Even then – hedge funds – are they insurance companies, as it’s almost core of their business to play with risk?

          • Bob_Wallace

            I suspect you would benefit from spending some time thinking. You missed the context.

            I’ll spell it out for you. When Party A agrees to pay for some of the risk to which Party B is exposed we call that accepting risk. The term we use for accepting risk is insurance.

            Your examples are all cases where Party B does not lay off any of its risk to another party.

          • Radical Ignorant

            No – you said that car companies would became insurance companies. That’s something very different than .
            And my whole argument was that there would be no need for insurance companies, because:
            1 – number of accidents would be tiny percent of current cases so it would be probably cheaper to pay for every of them than to force additional bureaucracy on user and supporting whole army of agents
            2 – this will became manufacturer risk as opposed to driver risk, as manufacturer will be responsible for AI
            3 – cases will be much easier to judge as all data will be easily accessible in 99.9% of cases

          • Bob_Wallace

            Yes, the number of collisions should greatly decline. Auto insurance companies have been openly talking about this.

            But there will still be a need for insurance. Theft, vandalism, rock chips, floods, fires – that stuff will still happen.

            If the company that sells you the car agrees to fix those problems then they are becoming insurance companies. If they don’t charge you a premium then they will blend the cost into the selling price of the car.

            If you think the paperwork and hassle will be less….

      • Karl the brewer

        And cycling will become pleasant again 🙂

        • Bob_Wallace

          Safe. And safe is pleasant.

    • roadkill612

      Probably yes. Most gridlock is a result of folk being unable to merge sensibly.

  • Kyle Field

    Wow, this really feels like a bold stance on EVs – nice work GM. I’m curious what volumes they are assuming to reach that $145/kWh. Higher volumes = better for everyone :). I still think the model 3 will beat out the Bolt because of all the innovation Telsa is cramming into their cars (and presumably into the Model 3) combined with the supercharing network. It’s going to be a great couple of years 🙂

    • Adrian

      A Buick Encore at MSRP and 60kWh of loose batteries @ $145/kWh comes to $33700.

      Take out the ICE systems, change the floor, add in an EV drivetrain and package the cells…

      GM has plenty of pricing room to make this work for $42k-ish MSRP before fed rebate, if they want to. They might even make a profit, depending on development & tooling costs.

      • Kyle Field

        Nobody will buy this for $42k. It would be a stretch at $30k if you ask me. This thing is a tiny eco car with or without the 200 mile range. The range just makes it an option for people…it doesnt at the same time make it sexy and big enough to fit a family of 5 comfortably.

      • RexxSee

        Too high price.
        MSRP is 24 to 31,000$ With all the parts removed, the EV should not be priced higher than the InFernal Pollution Engine version.

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