But now we hit the crucial point of electric cars. At some point, you have to pay a fortune and destroy the environment in order to put another, unrepairable, battery back into them.
This is the point at which two things can happen, if batteries are too expensive: People bin the cars and get a new one. People bin the cars and buy something else.
It's not like an iPad or something where this is a throwaway expense and the device goes out of fashion before it's required and replacement can be done on the cheap. WE HAVE NO CHEAP BATTERIES suitable for electric cars. It doesn't matter how huge your factory is, you just can't make the batteries that cheap. If you could, you wouldn't even need to make an electric car yourself, you could just make a living from the batteries alone and could have done many years ago before you sold the cars.
And the problem is there for all manufacturers, all end-users, all producers. We just don't have that kind of energy capacity that cheap yet. Except, possibly, in liquid form.
When these batteries start dying, the cars won't even get as far as the second-hand market. Nobody will touch them. They will be destroyed (recycled) rather than sold on. Now factor the cost of that battery over 8 years... chances are it comes in at about the same (with charging costs) as just using petrol all that time ($40k buys a LOT of petrol...). We honestly haven't saved anything. But done so at great expense.
And, historically, even battery "breakthrough" that I ever heard of resulted in pretty much zero commercial success (mainly because they never achieved anywhere near as much as they promised they would). And every battery "breakthrough" that I did witness as successful was done literally overnight without almost any fancy scientists telling us how great they'd be - laptops just started to come with NiMH, and then Li-Ion batteries - and then I saw a LiPo battery in a product - and at the time you'd never even heard of them. Even back in the early days of rechargeable batteries, they just appeared on the market out of nowhere and then stayed there for years while dozens, if not hundreds, of alternate ideas were given air-time and resulted in nothing because their improvements never actually materialised.
I'm not saying there's not something on the horizon. But the amount of battery chemistry changes that have commercialised successfully can, literally, be counted on your fingers. And the amount of "battery research" that resulted in nothing, where we were told they'd be the next big thing in 5-10 years time? Innumerable. I can remember being told that aerogels were the future of batteries... have yet to see one.
This is, as far as I can see, a face-saving exercise. Nobody has managed to build a better battery. Many of the electric cars of the last decade literally use laptop cells to do so - just stacked differently. And yet we've had proven commercially-viable electric vehicles since the 60's at least (anyone over 30 in the UK knows the sound of the milk-float).
They bet the whole show on someone, somewhere, building a better battery and - pretty much - selling at a loss hoping it would arrive if they just sold enough cars. And now that bubble is starting to collapse in on itself. Nothing has really changed in battery technology. Nothing looks likely to in the immediate future. So all they can do is ramp up production and hope there's enough lithium to use it.
And who gets the bum end of the deal - the first adopters who, to be honest, I have little sympathy for as they made the same predictions / gamble on batteries as Tesla have. Give it a couple of years and they will have a very expensive paperweight that can't even get them down the road and it'll be cheaper to buy something else entirely.
I'm not completely anti-electric. Hell, I was pricing up all-electric scooters/mopeds/motorbikes only the other day. They are viable. In the time it would take me to kill them, I would save enough in petrol to buy them all over again. But the fact is that they have a limited purpose and limited potential precisely because the engine power just isn't there. There's no point having a Ferrari to go down the shops if the fuel tank will barely get you there.
And what most people really need is something that can do 70mph, with 2 adults, 2 kids, a shed-load of luggage, and drive hundreds of miles between charges, and not "die" if they then don't use it for a while. And when you get into that scenario, or even the scenario of everyday commute, they quickly become so reliant on the battery that you have to worry about it. I'm not going to spend tens of thousands on a car with a dubious resale cost at the end of it. And that resale cost is almost entirely limited by the battery.
The next few years will be interesting as these things die off.