Why e-mobility is (still) so expensive


Too expensive, too heavy, too short range: The e-car is fraught with many prejudices. A study by the international consulting firm A.T. Kearney shows what hurdles the electric vehicle manufacturers have to take to be able to compete in terms of price / performance with burners. Currently, the material costs of electric vehicles are still 60 percent higher than those of conventional vehicles. And the batteries are more expensive instead of cheaper.

Analyzes the current challenges of the e-car industry: Marcus M. Weber, Partner at A.T. Kearney and mobility expert. (Credit: A.T. Kearney)
Analyzes the current challenges of the e-car industry: Marcus M. Weber Mobility expert at A.T. Kearney. (Credit: A.T. Kearney)

The new study "Integrative Cost Management for E-Vehicles" of the international consulting firm A.T. Kearney highlights the difficult cost situation that electric car manufacturers are currently experiencing. The sticking point and bigger cost driver is the battery. In addition to its high acquisition costs prepares especially the weight – it rises compared to comparable burners by about 300-800kg (about 15-50 percent) – problems. A higher overall weight of the vehicle also means a stiffer body, bigger brakes, axles and much more. That drives up the costs. "Electric cars are still struggling with significantly higher material costs than comparable vehicles with internal combustion engines. The automotive industry will only meet the return targets of electric vehicles if cooperation models are redefined and processes are completely aligned across divisions or companies. The up to 60 percent higher material costs, which are mainly due to the battery or the drive, must be saved elsewhere ", says Marcus M. Weber, Partner at A.T. Kearney and mobility expert.

High weight causes material costs to explode by 60 percent

Based on the Mercedes EQC, the experts of A.T. Kearney recalculated where the sticking points lie. So the vehicle idle weight of the Mercedes EQC is 2.425kg. 650kg of this is due to the 80kWh battery including battery case and cooling. Compared to the gas burner GLC this means an additional weight of 690kg. This additional weight leads to secondary effects throughout the vehicle. The costs of the chassis (axles, wheels / tires, steering, brakes and brake control) increase due to the stronger design by about 5-10 percent. To protect the battery in front and side crashes in the body additional crash measures are required. This also results in additional costs in the amount of about 10 percent. In total, this results in a 60 percent increase in material costs compared to the combustor.

Batteries are more expensive, not cheaper

So far, automobile manufacturers have assumed increasing volumes and further minimized costs in cell production. But just the opposite is the case! Due to a tense market, prices are rising. The offer of cell modules is determined by a small number of suppliers. The Asian manufacturers Samsung, Panasonic and CATL currently produce about 90 percent of the world's available. To reduce dependence on Asian suppliers, suppliers and car manufacturers would need to invest in their own battery manufacturing. However, own cell production involves considerable investment risks that companies have hitherto considered too risky. One way of acquiring know-how without building up your own cell production is to establish strategic partnerships. An example of such a partnership is the cooperation between Tesla and Panasonic. The Tesla and the battery manufacturer invest together in a "Gigafactory" and thus share the investment risk.

(Credit: A.T. Kearney)

Down with the cost, but how?

According to the study, there is only one way out for the manufacturers. B. optimize the aerodynamics. "Improving the aerodynamics by lowering the vehicle height, the battery energy content can be reduced while maintaining the same range. A kilowatt hour then saves up to 80 euros in material costs, "says Weber. This is part of a holistic vehicle cost management that many manufacturers and suppliers are still failing to implement. Assertive project management that can efficiently manage the complexity of an integrative approach is key. The complexity is high. In addition to the direct material costs, the supplier relationships and networks must be rethought. Above all, strategic partnerships are becoming increasingly important in order to quickly compensate for missing know-how and permanently minimize potential risks. Marcus M. Weber is certain: "In the age of electromobility, only car manufacturers and suppliers who practice integrative and efficient cost management in their daily work will be successful."

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