Hybrid and electric vehicles will not develop in isolation. They will face stiff competition from rapidly improving internal combustion engines (ICEs) in the short run and from fuel cell vehicles in the long run. It is important to understand the long-term efficiency, cost, and market barriers for every powertrain choice. If this is not done, estimates of the market potential of hybrids and electric vehicles are highly unlikely to be accurate.
The National Academy of Sciences released a report in 2013 on Transitions to Alternative Vehicles and Fuels. This was an extensive report on the feasibility of transitioning to electric vehicles, fuel cell vehicles, and biofuels out to 2050, assuming aggressive policies will be in place. As part of this work, the various powertrain choices were carefully assessed using consistent assumptions for each of ICE, hybrid-electric, plug-in, electric, and fuel cell vehicles out to 2050. For example, the same amount of weight reduction was applied to all vehicle types, and vehicle costs were built up from one vehicle type to the next (e.g., hybrid costs were estimated based on changes from conventional vehicles, and PEV costs were based on changes from hybrid vehicles).
Because of the multiple paths to improve efficiency and reduce cost in many areas, such as internal combustion engine efficiency and Li-ion battery development, the NAS Committee developed analyses based upon modeling of component efficiency and energy losses. In addition, fundamental limitations for all technologies were considered for all future assessments and the Committee ensure that the estimates stayed well short of the limits. Assessments were made for "mid-range" and "optimistic" scenarios.
This presentation presents the methods and results of the NAS Committee's work on powertrain technology, as well as relevant Findings from the Committee report. Combined with load reductions, efficiency of ICE vehicles was projected to more than triple by 2050 and the efficiency of hybrid vehicles to increase by a factor of 4 to 5. Costs of battery electric vehicles with a 100-mile range and fuel cell vehicles were projected to match that of ICE vehicles by about 2040 and to to be lower after 2040. Hybrid vehicle incremental cost (without retail markup) over an ICE was projected to drop to less than $700 by 2050, although plug-in hybrid incremental cost remained relatively high at about $1,800.