GENEVA -- Electric vehicles likely will need a range of at least 310 miles per charge to become a mainstream option to gasoline-powered cars, Daimler AG boss Dieter Zetsche says.
That range is "probably a reasonable number to pursue," Zetsche said last week at the Geneva auto show.
But he said there are no magic numbers to trigger broad consumer acceptance of EVs.
"I don't know if there's one tipping point after which in two years all internal combustion engines will be replaced in new-car sales by electric cars," Zetsche said at a roundtable with U.S. media.
Instead, he described a "continuum" of necessary steps.
One of those steps: Battery cost must fall for EVs to reach prices that will prompt consumers to swap gasoline-powered vehicles for electrics.
The cost of batteries is around $170 per kilowatt-hour, Zetsche estimated. Hitting $110 to $130 per kwh is "perhaps the threshold where performancewise and costwise you start to become competitive," he said.
When Chevrolet's all-electric Bolt goes on sale late this year, it will be among the cheapest per-kwh vehicles on the market, according to General Motors.
The Bolt's LG Chem-sourced batteries cost $145 per kwh, GM said, helping the automaker to keep the Bolt's price at $37,500, including shipping but before tax credits.
Pulling EVs out of the niche market also means further developing EV infrastructure, Zetsche said.
The expanding range of plug-in hybrid vehicles will also be a step toward widespread EV adoption, he said. Daimler's Mercedes-Benz has been bullish on plug-in hybrids.