BOXBERG, Germany -- The high cost of batteries will impede the growth of electric and plug-in hybrids this decade, says Robert Bosch GmbH.
In 2020, electrics and plug-in hybrids will account for about 3 million, or less than 3 percent, of projected worldwide light-vehicle sales of 103 million units, the company said at a press event here last week. Six million will be standard hybrids, such as the Toyota Prius.
In 2020, Bosch expects electrics to cost automakers about 45 percent more than comparable internal-combustion vehicles.
Still, Bosch is investing heavily in technology for electrics and plug-ins in part because the company has the potential to sell far more parts for an electric vehicle than for an internal-combustion vehicle.
The world's largest auto supplier is spending about 400 million euros ($538 million) per year and employing about 800 people on electric and hybrid development.
The company can produce the complete electric powertrain, said Bernd Bohr, chairman of Bosch's automotive group.
But the company estimates that in 2020 the battery for an electric or plug-in hybrid will cost automakers about $8,000 to $16,000. By comparison, a typical internal-combustion engine costs about $4,000, the company says.
A recent consumer study in Germany found that consumer interest is "close to zero" in an electric that costs $2,690 more than an equivalent internal-combustion vehicle, Bohr said.
But Bohr said consumer acceptance will increase for an electric as a household's second or third car when more consumers drive and get comfortable with the limited range.
Bohr also predicted that the design of electrics will change significantly in coming years.
Now, Bohr said, the industry typically takes a standard car design, swaps in an electric powertrain and "hides the battery somewhere."