If you consider total-cost and lifecycle as well as lifestyle equations, fast recharging and battery swapping are likely to be more important longer term than the battery in the car itself. Seen in that light, whether an all-electric car has 200 miles or 300 miles of range, may not matter as much a few years from now as it does today.
So what are we to make of all of this? I think there are two major points:
1. GM was at least six years ahead of Tesla in delivering a $40,000 car that most people can drive on electricity at least almost all of the time. Volt shipped in 2010; Tesla, at best, in late 2016, probably later.
2. Faster recharging techniques and battery swapping could in turn swing the pendulum in favor of all-electric at some point. This requires infrastructure investment (which the Volt did not require), but could be worth it going forward.It looks to me like the ingredients to fuel electrification of the automotive fleet in the next few years will have these components:
- Plug-in hybrids such as the Chevrolet Volt that require zero new public infrastructure investment. Just charge at home, at work or not at all if necessary. This makes for the least expensive, zero-compromise-usability electrified cars.
- All-electric cars for those who need maximum sports car performance or need a strict commuter car for relatively short, set distances. Tesla is the leader here.
- Faster recharging techniques and battery swap facilities to enable a shift to less expensive all-electric cars where the electric range doesn't need to be much longer than 200-300 miles to be competitive with hybrids. Tesla has the leadership to date in this area.