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"Lifetime Cost of Battery, Fuel-Cell, and Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles," chapter 2 in Electric and Hybrid Vehicles: Power Sources, Models, Sustainability, Infrastructure and the Market

UCD-ITS-RP-10-63

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Sustainable Transportation Energy Pathways (STEPS)

Concerns about climate change, urban air pollution, and dependence on unstable and expensive supplies of foreign oil have led policy makers and researchers to investigate alternatives to conventional petroleum-fueled internal combustion engine vehicles in transportation. Because vehicles that get some or all of their power from an electric drivetrain can have low or even zero emissions of greenhouse gases and urban air pollutants and can consume little or no petroleum, there is considerable interest in developing and evaluating advanced EVs, including battery electric vehicles, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, and fuel-cell electric vehicles. However, although there are no technical barriers to developing EVs that perform as well as do petroleum ICEVs, it is not yet clear whether advanced EVs can be developed economically.

In this chapter we review estimates of the full social lifetime cost of BEVs, PHEVs, and FCEVs. The full social lifetime cost of a vehicle comprises all of the intial and periodic costs of owning and operating a vehicle, including some nonmarket costs that are incurred by society as a whole (external costs).

The analyses reviewed here suggest that with reasonably anticipatable technological progress, the social lifetime cost of advanced EVs can be close to the social lifetime cost of gasoline EVs. More work is needed for more definitive conclusions, particularly as new advanced EV designs and concepts continue to emerge.

Suggested citation: Delucchi, Mark A. and Timothy E. Lipman. 2010. Lifetime Cost of Battery, Fuel-Cell, and Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles. In Pistoia, Gianfranco, ed., Electric and Hybrid Vehicles: Power Sources, Models, Sustainability, Infrastructure and the Market. Amsterdam and Oxford: Elsevier.