Gasoline cars have complicated engines with thousands of moving parts, transmissions, mufflers, catalytic converters, fuel systems.
Electric cars have an electric motor with 1 moving part, most need no transmission, an electric motor controller ( which is solid state electronics ) and a battery.
The combination of electric motor + motor controller should be significantly less expensive than all the corresponding gas car parts. The gar car parts will wear out after several years and the electric motor and controller will probably not wear out before the rest of the car falls apart. An electric car will have a lower maintenance cost and last longer than a gas car.
Currently a 33 kWhr battery for a 150 mile range car would cost about $10000, making an electric car probably $8000 more than an equivalent gas car.
The average American driver who drives 12000 miles a year would need about 9 years to make their money back on the more expensive car considering just fuel savings at $3 a year. However gasoline is projected to be over $5 a gallon by 2016, and at $5 a gallon, it would take 5 years. Someone who drives 20000 miles a year would only take 3 years to recover that cost at $5 a gallon.
When the extra cost of the batteries is down to $6000 dollars, and gas is at $4 a gallon it will take the average driver 5 years to recover their cost.
Also remember that if you buy a car in 2010 and gas is $3 a gallon, and you keep it for 5 years, and the cost of gas is $5 a gallon in 2015, you’re average cost of gas is $4 over those 5 years.
So where will the numbers meet?
The cost of the batteries is going to keep coming down.
The cost of gasoline is going to keep going up.
When the lines cross, and the payback is under 5 years, everyone will need an electric car.
Will they cross in 2012? 2014? 2016?
Hopefully the manufacturing capacity to make them by the millions will be available when it does.