SPEEDWAY, Ind. — With gas prices soaring, some drivers and companies may be turning to electric vehicles for refuge. General Motors plans to phase out making gas cars by 2035.
“This was happening before this war and this crisis,” said Ananth Iyer, senior associate dean in Purdue’s Krannert School of Management. “How do we bring the community along? You look at the price of a fully battery operated vehicle, and it’s pretty steep compared to the regular car.”
Iyer says the future of electric comes down to affordability and infrastructure. He says the cost of batteries will keep electric cars from reaching affordable levels.
“The battery for many electric vehicles is close to 50% of the cost of the car,” details Iyer, “The question is how do we get the price of the batteries down?”
He believes the only way to drop the cost is to mass produce them in the United States
“As you increase the scale dramatically the cost per kilowatt hour goes down,” explained Iyer.
Electric vehicles also take less parts to operate. Allison Transmission has an e-axel for commercial vehicles that runs just on a motor and a battery attached to the axel. The company tells us only 1% of the commercial vehicles in the world run on electric now.
“We simply have significantly more hurdles in our industry to cross to achieve a goal like that [General Motors goal] by 2035,” says Branden Harbin, executive director of Global Marketing. “We are looking at an aggressive goal that would be 15% to 25% electric vehicle in that same horizon.”
IndyGo just started using their hybrid electric system on city busses.
“What they have seen is a 25% improvement in fuel economy with those electric hybrid buses,” adds Harbin.
Allison says companies typically pay $20,000 a year in gas for each medium duty truck in their fleet. A medium truck would be similar to a home moving truck. With today’s diesel prices, they say that number is hitting $40,000. Allison’s electric offerings can cut that by $2,500 per truck.
Even if a company wants to go all electric, it is more complicated than simply buying the vehicles.
“Where are they going to charge these vehicles? Is it going to be on the roof, or on the side? They have to install charging infrastructure,” said Harbin. “They have to work with the local utility to see if they even have the capacity to deliver needed energy to power those vehicles.”