Autonomous driving features in electric vehicles can save $1,800 in battery costs

Wireless charging for cars is on the horizon

Increasingly available autonomous driving features that boost efficiency can add up to $1,800 in battery cost savings for long-range electric vehicles (EV), a new report finds.

According to the report by Lux Research, multiple academic studies show that autonomous features, such as self-parking (expected as early as 2016), adaptive cruise control and highway autopilot, may boost fuel efficiency by as much as 10%, when compared with human drivers. That translates into $1,800 in battery cost savings in a Tesla over the lifetime of the vehicle, or an additional 24 miles to driving range per charge.

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Adaptive cruise control uses GPS to automatically adjust a vehicle's speed to maintain a safe distance from vehicles ahead.

Self-parking plug-ins are expected to reach 440,000 units in 2020, led by Tesla Motors and BMW, the report states.

While saving energy at the individual vehicle level, autonomous driving technology will also create an additional $2.5 billion market for batteries in 2030 as the features require extra batteries for safety and redundancy.

"Many buyers of electric cars, such as those who buy the expensive Tesla Model S, are willing adopters of more autonomous driving technology," said Maryanna Saenko, Lux Research analyst and lead author of the report titled, Electric Car, Drive Thyself: How Autonomous Systems and Plug-in Vehicles Will Converge.

"But as these autonomous features help improve the driving efficiency of plug-in vehicles and boost charging efficiency with self-parking capabilities, they will help to bring electric vehicles to a wider audience as well."

In another area, wireless charging in cars is coming soon, the report stated. Starting with the Audi Q7 e-tron Quattro in 2016, EVs will begin to offer wireless charging as an additional-cost option. Self-parking EVs help solve a critical problem in wireless charging, since misaligned parking by human drivers leads to slower charging speed.

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Lucas Mearian

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