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Discussion in 'Electric Vehicles' started by EVNow, Jul 16, 2010.
After GM created their first electric vehicle division their corporate behaviour appeared to be motivated by contradictory or conflicting principles, i.e. the informal definition of schizophrenia. This inner conflict of principles lead them to devour their newly formed electric division.
From Big Oil's Stranglehold on America
"The Car That Could".
I bet it's the batteries. Toyota's growth may have given them problems with quality, but I'm sure their cost accountants can still do their arithmetic.
They have the same problem they had last time. If they charge what it costs they might not sell enough to fulfill the mandate. If they don't, then every car they sell loses money and each car over the quota loses money unnecessarily.
I'm an EV guy, but I honestly can't fault them for this. It's a business call. They DO seem to be keen on the tech and the cause though. Let's not forget they invested in Tesla, and though they weren't the first, they've been a leader in the hybrid space for a long time now.
I had visions of the typical corporate middle management resistance to change.
The CEO has a Tesla epiphany - gets the gift of the Roadster - then orders the company to change direction. Of course, there will be those with a vested interest in keeping the current direction and so perhaps just make a token effort.
It's sort of a chicken-and-egg problem. If they only build a few, they will be expensive because of the low volumes AND the batteries. If they go big like Nissan did, they can get the per-unit cost a lot lower (though still not really low because of the batteries); and the lower price in turn will drive sales up. Who knows what exact numbers they are using and what sales & profit numbers that results in; but they may or may not see a market there. Certainly Tesla, Coda, Wheego, GM, Ford and Nissan do; but it all depends on how many people you guess will buy at any given price. Nobody really knows. I suspect they see potential profit; but they judge it as not enough to make up for the risk.
Toyota probably perceives the risk as higher than the other automakers do. Even if they think the EV division would make money on its own, what effect would that have on their hybrid division, which is one area where they have the biggest lead over other automakers? Of course an awful lot of former Prius drivers are now moving to BEVs like the Leaf, so I figure the bleeding in the hybrid division is going to happen no matter what Toyota does, so Toyota might as well get in on the action. But from their tepid movements so far, it doesn't seem like Toyota is willing to really move to plug-ins yet.
I wonder if it would make sense for them to do a brand, like Scion, for the EVs? They'd be able to move more nimbly, and distance themselves from failure (should it happen). Of course, they'll need more than one car to form the line... Perhaps the Prius name can just become that brand.
RAV4EV has the unique proposition - the only SUV EV around. They should be able to sell them - as much - if not more than Leaf, if they can keep the price down. Being an SUV the conversion won't be clunky like in Focus EV. Ofcourse the problem is the low efficiency they will get because of the bad aero, which mean bigger batteries for the same range leading to higher price.
Essentially - OEMs like Toyota, Honda have decided that it is better to just wait until others struggle to get the battery cost & infrastructure issues sorted out. Then they can come in and get enough marketshare given their loyal following. We will see if that strategy works ...
Be careful about invoking any variation on the devil argument. You know all about the tradeoffs. Don't let your enthusiasm blind you.
Why not keep you customers with you brand? The numbers of Leaf people who have never bought a Nissan before are pretty high.
Well, the mark 1 RAV4 EV had a range of >100 miles and that is still the case with a '99 model I drove recently. That was with a 27 kWh pack.
A 2000 CARB report put NIMH costs at $350 / kWh or $250 in bulk plus $1200 ($600 bulk) fixed pack cost.
So back then a pack could have cost $7350 or 38% premium on an equivalent gas car.
Have we moved forward? The new RAV4 is reported to have a 37 kWh pack for similar range. Model S pack costs seem to be $500 / kWh. (Perhaps they should put the current car on a diet and wait 2 years for the NIMH patent.) That works out at 64% over the equivalent gas model.
Nevertheless in 1999 the price of gas was $1/gallon. Now it's what? $4? US inflation since 1999 was 35.8% but gas went up nearly ten times that...
So taking average mileage, in 1999 it would have taken 14.7 years' worth of gas to match the cost of the battery. That was too much to swallow. In 2011 dollars it would take 8 years' worth of gas to reach the premium for battery in the new model. If they were selling the old model today it would be 4 years.
It doesn't seem too much of a stretch to imagine that a finance model could be offered to flatten out the upfront cost. They could even take the ten year view and make a profit. Perhaps Toyota's accountants need to work on that. Renault's are.
Interesting. Given the $7,500 tax credit in the US - the battery premium seems to be completely absorbed by fed govt. So, OEMs should be able to price the car $10k above the ICE equivalent and sell it in good numbers to break-even.
BTW, S can't really go with NiMH even at $350/kWh since the energy density is still very poor.
But IIRC it makes up for it a bit by not needing the buffers for pack longevity.
No - you still need the buffers. Prius uses a small portion for eg. Not sure how much the old RAV4EV used.
Nickel-based Batteries Information â€“ Battery University
In anycase, the Cobalt battery Tesla uses are perhaps double the specific energy of NiMH (170 hw/kg vs 90 wh/kg).
If I understood well Toyota pays TESLA for developing the RAV EV?
So the only way they can recuperate a bit of this cost is by selling some.
If I understand well, TESLA builds the whole drivetrain and batteries, and Toyota incorporates them in their RAV factory.
So Toyota has nearly no risk in building them!
If they build 10, it's ok, if they build 1000 it's better!
So Toyota can play "wait-and-see" how many they will sell!
Toyota pays Tesla for the development cost (a fixed amount). Tesla invests in a drivetrain production line (again, fixed cost). Toyota closed a contract with Tesla for a certain number of drivetrains to buy, reported as a nearly $100m deal in shareholder report Q3/2011. I guess they specify a fixed number of drivetrains - no need to adjust for market demand since Toyota aims to sell just enough cars to meet California CAFE specs. So it's all set in stone for the time being.
However there has been talk about the possibility of a much larger contract with Toyota in the future (IIRC the order of magnitude of $1billion, though it wasn't said whether those would be about the RAV4, and we don't know if that information is still current).
Will Electric SUVs Save the Planet?
First I remember hearing about the Scion bit.
I wish I knew what market research is showing that 100 miles of nominal cruising range is the sweet spot. We collectively seem to think that that's too short -- not a lot too short, but light.