Nissan has introduced the 2018 Nissan Leaf, the next evolution of its zero-emission electric vehicle.
Nissan has introduced the 2018 Nissan Leaf, the next evolution of its zero-emission electric vehicle. Contributed

Electric car prices will soon be the same as petrol vehicles

Electric cars are predicted to reach price parity with conventional petrol power by about 2025.

Nissan, an electric vehicle pioneer that brought the Pulsar-sized Leaf battery car to Australia in 2010, believes falling costs for battery technology and increases in the cost of petrol power will trigger the watershed moment in motoring.

"We see that the auto industry is coming to a turning point. There is a tipping point," the chief planning officer for Nissan, Philippe Klein, said at the Tokyo motor show.

"From what we see today, we see this happening somewhere in the middle of the next decade."

He spoke as every car maker at the show was spotlighting its electric technology with promises of everything from solid-state batteries to plug-in driving ranges up to 600km.

In Nissan's case, its headliner is an SUV concept called IMx but it is also touting the second-generation Leaf small car that will arrive in Australia next year.

Nissan IMx from Tokyo motor show
Nissan IMx from Tokyo motor show

There is no detail yet on Leaf pricing but it needs to be considerably better than the first-generation car, which was more than double the price of an equivalent small hatchback at more than $50,000.

Electric-car sales are still tiny in Australia, with only 817 delivered in the first nine months of 2017, despite the impact made by trendy Tesla cars and BMW's efforts with its costly plug-in i3 city car and i8 sports coupe.

There are also ongoing discussions about government subsidies, plug-in infrastructure and the way electricity is primarily generated using coal.

Nissan Leaf NISMO Concept from Tokyo motor show
Nissan Leaf NISMO Concept from Tokyo motor show

But Klein said electric motoring is changing - and fast.

"We see a trend. And the speed of the trend. And we see that this will continue," he said.

He predicts that the regulatory costs of owning a petrol-powered car, particularly in emissions-conscious countries in Europe, will continue to rise sharply at the same time as technology drives down the cost of electric motoring.

One of the key drivers for electric motoring is new battery technology, where Nissan - like Toyota and others - is placing its emphasis on solid-state technology similar to what is used in mobile telephones.

"Yes we are working on it. It's still in the research stage and we have to investigate how to industrialise," said Takao Asami, a senior vice-president for research and advanced engineering.

"We estimate that we can reach 600km, ultimately, within the next generation of electric vehicle series.

"We see some improvement (beyond that). There is also an opportunity to improve the (energy) density at the cell level."

Asami said Nissan has workable wireless charging, which has overcome numerous problems, including harmful emissions and how the vehicle is positioned for re-charging.

"Technically we are ready to offer such a system to improve the customer's useability of electric vehicles."



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