LAGUNA NIGUEL, Calif.--By Keshav Sondhi's telling, the handful of electric vehicles that FedEx is testing are wonderful, offering sufficient range and one-third the operating cost.
But because an electric truck costs three or four times more than a conventional truck, FedEx's worldwide fleet of all-electrics is only 19 out of about 40,000 trucks.
"We want those trucks. We believe in energy independence," said Sondhi, FedEx's chief engineer for electric vehicles. "We have a deep belief in electrification, but the capital (needed) has inhibited us to what we have now."
So it goes for so many consumers and businesses considering electric vehicles. The smooth and peppy acceleration of electric motors makes for a good driving experience, fueling up is cheaper, and owning a plug-in reduces imported oil and carbon emissions.
But for electric vehicles to break out beyond early technology adapters, battery prices need to fall dramatically--to about half where they are today in the coming years--said auto executives at the Fortune Brainstorm Green conference here. Cost reductions are expected to come from higher scale manufacturing and technology improvements.
"By mid-decade I have high confidence that we (as an industry) will establish (battery) cell production in the U.S.," said Tony Posawatz, the vehicle line director for the Chevy Volt. "The simple fact of producing cells with shorter transport takes likely hundreds of dollars out of the cost of pack." … Read more