The true cost of the batteries that power electric cars is one of the best kept secrets of the global auto industry.
Nevertheless, Toyota gave a direct hint of this well-kept secret at a press event on the sidelines of the Frankfurt auto show.
The plug-in version of the gasoline-hybrid Prius that Toyota is debuting at the show will cost 7,000 euros ($9,600) more than a normal Prius hybrid without a plug-in charging function.
Toyota says the Prius plug-in is able to drive 23km in pure electric mode. This is 21km more than a standard Prius, which can be driven for only 2km purely on battery power.
The consequent math – 7,000 euros for 21km of additional range – means a battery cost of roughly 333 euros for each km of range ($730 per mile).
If this math is right, an EV able to cover 100km should have a battery cost of 33,333 euros. Too much? Right now, the total price of electric cars starts at about 35,000 euros.
At the same time, we do not know yet if automakers selling electric minicars at this price make a profit, or just a loss to promote a new technology and a greener aura for their brand image.