From the Mobilist Inbox This Week

Affordable EVs, Tesla’s Jeff Dahn, the EV market, and future jobs

Photo: Robert Alexander/Getty

The meaning of parity: Last Friday, I wrote about the expected coming of cost parity, when electric and gasoline-propelled vehicles will cost roughly the same to manufacture. As I have reported numerous times, the signal for parity will be when lithium-ion batteries drop below $100 per kilowatt-hour, expected in 2023 or 2024. At that point, when there is no price difference between the technologies, we will know whether large numbers of ordinary motorists want to own EVs, or whether they will remain a niche, green product.

But, from his home in Berlin, Mobilist reader Frank Wunderlich-Pfeiffer tweets that technical parity and actual parity are two different things. What matters, Wunderlich-Pfeiffer argued, is not when EVs and combustion cars both can be had for $30,000 or so, but when they reach the average price that most people around the world usually pay — around $10,000. “Honestly, calling $100/kWh ‘parity’ is overly optimistic,” he writes. “Parity is when you can build a basic car with 500–700km (300–400 miles) range for $10,000 and turn a profit. Parity is somewhere between $20/kWh and $50/kWh.”

Jeff Dahn speaks: In yesterday’s post, I mentioned Tesla senior battery adviser Jeff Dahn, a professor at Dalhousie University and one of the dozen or so most influential researchers in the field. In a virtual presentation yesterday before the German Physical Society in Berlin, Dahn talked about his so-called “million-mile battery,” which he described in two much-read papers published in 2019 and last year. Dahn’s thesis is that designing batteries using single crystals, rather than polycrystalline particles, results in remarkably long-lived batteries with ultra-minor degradation.

In his talk, Dahn said that his lab has continued to test the cells he described in his papers. Most recently, they reached 10,000 cycles, the equivalent of 2,500,000 miles or about 25 years of driving. Even charging and discharging 100% of the electricity within the battery, there was almost no discernible degradation. “It’s like incredibly crazy,” Dahn said.

Gauging future EV sales: If EV sales do take off, just how large will the market become? Alana Levin, a student at Wharton, takes a dive into the data in a post at Data Driven Investor, published on the Medium platform.

About EV jobs: Last month, I wrote about Kameale Terry and her Los Angeles company ChargerHelp, which trains people for $39 an hour, $80,000-a-year jobs as EV charging station technicians. At Linkedin, Kameale writes that she received more than 1,500 inquiries from across the country. “They were all interested in becoming ChargerHelp technicians,” she wrote.

Editor at Large, Medium, covering the turbulence all around us, electric vehicles, batteries, social trends. Writing The Mobilist. Ex-Axios, Quartz, WSJ, NYT.

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