Autonomous driving features make e-cars cheaper, study finds

September 25, 2015 // By Christoph Hammerschmidt
Not only help driver assistance systems such as cruise control to save on fuel consumption, electric vehicles also can benefit from such features, translating into smaller batteries and thus into lower overall costs. Market intelligence company Lux Research has concrete figures.

According to Lux Research analyst Maryanna Saenko, plug-in vehicles can save up to $1,800 in battery costs if they are equipped with self-driving functions. Alternatively, these functions (if activated!) could add some 38 km (24 miles) of driving range.

Recent academic studies indicate that autonomous features such as self-parking which could be available in 2016 may boost fuel efficiency in conventional vehicles by as much as 10 percent in comparison to human driving style. This would be the equivalent of $1,800 for a Tesla, the market researchers calculate. “But as these autonomous features help improve the driving efficiency of plug-in vehicles, and boost charging efficiency with self-parking capabilities, they will help to bring electric vehicles to a wider audience as well,“ she said.

The LUX Research report entitled “Electric car, Drive Thyself: How Autonomous Systems and Plug-in-Vehicles Will Converge” has more findings. Among them:

  • Self-parking features will arrive in 2014, reaching a volume of 440.000 units in 2020. Starting with Audi’s Q7 e-tron Quattro in 2016, electric vehicles will start offering wireless charging as an option.
  • Despite saving on energy, increased levels of autonomy will require additional batteries for safety and redundancy. The market watchers anticipate a price of $350 for a battery capacity of 1 kWh which will lead to an additional market volume for lithium-ion batteries of $2.5 billion by 2030.

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