* Plug-in, hydrogen cars still more costly than regular cars
* More incentives needed to rival conventional car cost
By Nina Chestney
LONDON, Sept 6 The cost of alternative low
carbon vehicles could fall significantly in the next 15-20 years
as prices of cleaner fuels drop, but they will remain pricier
than conventional cars, a report by UK-based consultancy Element
Energy showed on Tuesday.
The roll-out of alternative vehicles is seen by some as a
crucial step in the shift to a low-carbon economy. HSBC sees the
electric vehicle market growing 20-fold by 2020 to $473 billion.
They may be seen as a cleaner mode of transport but they are
expensive to buy and problematic to run due to the lack of range
By mid-2011, there were around 47 million vehicles using
alternative fuels and advanced technology, out of more than 1
billion vehicles in use globally, experts estimate.
The report, carried out for the Low Carbon Vehicle
Partnership (LowCVP), assessed total ownership expenses for both
low-carbon and conventional cars, including initial purchase
costs, fuel and insurance costs.
It studied all types of "alternative" vehicles, including
electric, hydrogen and hybrids, which apply battery technology
to use petroleum more efficiently.
The report said alternative vehicles would make a lot of
progress to bridge the difference in ownership costs by 2020.
The difference between owning a hydrogen or electric vehicle
and a conventional car could fall to 500-700 pounds by 2030 from
the current 5,000 pounds ($8,000)a year as battery and fuel cell
"There is, however, still a cost premium for alternative
vehicles in 2030," the report said.
Although the report did not single out any vehicle type as
dominating the alternative vehicle market, it said plug-in
hybrid electric vehicles would probably be most cost-effective.
Pure hydrogen vehicles will likely remain the most expensive
option, as fuel cell costs stay high.
"Initially there will only be a modest take-up of electric
or hydrogen vehicles and most of these are likely to be plug-in
hybrid vehicles with a lower electric range (10-20 miles), lower
total cost of ownership and no risk of running out of charge,"
said Greg Archer, managing director of LowCVP.
"More significant take-up of battery electric and hydrogen
fuel cell vehicles is possible after 2025, with tax incentives."
Some governments have been trying to incentivise the uptake
of low-carbon vehicles. Britain currently offers a grant towards
the cost of some new plug-in cars.
It also exempts from road tax cars that emit less than 100
grams per km of greenhouse gas carbon dioxide.
($1 = 0.625 British Pounds)
(Editing by Anthony Barker)