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Cheaper EVs coming despite high battery costs, according to automakers


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Hitting a price around $30,000 and a range per charge close to 300 miles is key to getting mainstream buyers to switch away from gasoline vehicles, industry analysts say.

September 8, 2022  By  Canadian Manufacturing


Even though battery costs are rising, auto companies are rolling out more affordable electric vehicles that should widen their appeal to a larger group of buyers.

The latest came on Sep. 8 from General Motors, a Chevrolet Equinox small SUV with a starting price somewhere around $30,000 and a range-per-charge of 250 miles (400 kilometers). You can get range of 300 miles (500 kilometers) if you pay more.

GM won’t release the exact price of the Equinox EV until closer to the date it goes on sale, about this time next year. But the SUV is at the low end of Edmunds.com’s list of prices for electric vehicles sold in the U.S., where the average cost of an EV is around $65,000.

Hitting a price around $30,000 and a range per charge close to 300 miles is key to getting mainstream buyers to switch away from gasoline vehicles, industry analysts say.

“You’re kind of at that sweet spot,” said Ivan Drury, director of insights for Edmunds.com. “You’re basically at the price point that everyone is clamoring for.”

Auto industry analysts say that if the Equinox makes efficient use of interior space with plenty of cargo and passenger room, and if it is styled similar to current gas-powered small SUVs, it should be a hit in the most popular segment of the U.S. auto market. About 20% of all new vehicles sold in the U.S. are compact SUVs.

“It’s a perfect vehicle for a lot of different users, whether it’s a small family, maybe an empty nester,” said Jeff Schuster, president of global forecasting for LMC Automotive, a Detroit-area consulting firm. “You’ve got space to haul things, but it’s easy to drive.”

A $30,000 EV that checks all of the boxes is just a little above the price of a comparable small gas-powered SUV. The Toyota RAV4, the top seller in the segment and the top-selling vehicle in the U.S. that isn’t a pickup, starts at just over $28,000.

Until the last few years, electric vehicles were either expensive and aimed at affluent luxury buyers, or cheaper but with limited travel ranges. For example, a base version of Tesla’s Model 3, the lowest-price model from the top-selling EV brand in the U.S., starts at more than $48,000. A larger Tesla Model X SUV starts at over $120,000.

The only EVs with starting prices under $30,000 (including shipping) now are versions of the Nissan Leaf and Chevrolet Bolt. Both are smaller than a typical gas-powered compact SUV. The Mini Cooper Electric, Mazda MX30 and Hyundai Kona Electric are in the $30,000s, according to Edmunds.

Kia’s Niro EV, Hyundai’s Ioniq 5, Ford’s F-150 Lightning pickup, the Volkswagen ID.4, Kia EV6, Toyota b24x, Ford’s Mustang Mach E, Audi’s Q4 e-tron, the Subaru Solterra, Polestar 2, and Tesla Model 3 all have starting prices in the $40,000s.

GM may find it difficult to keep the Equinox price around $30,000, largely because minerals such as lithium, copper, cobalt and nickel that are key components of batteries have been rising fast. There’s a finite number of mines and increasing demand as nearly all automakers introduce new EVs.

The vehicles and batteries have to be assembled in North America, and the new law phases in requirements that battery minerals and parts have to come from the continent. Most minerals such as lithium, a key battery ingredient, are now imported from China and other countries.

The Equinox checks the North American assembly box. It will be made in Mexico. The company won’t say where the battery will be made, but GM has announced three joint-venture battery factories in the U.S., including one that’s operating already in Warren, Ohio.


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