The low-speed electric vehicle (LSEV), a product similar to the neighborhood electric vehicle in California, has experienced explosive growth in China’s third- and fourth-tier cities and villages. The number of ownership has reached 4 million, but there is still no national standard regulation for it. The choice of battery type is one of the core controversies during the process of product legislation, since most LSEVs use lead-acid batteries for cost reduction nowadays, while many experts believe this would be harmful to the environment and not conducive to technical progress. This paper focuses on the battery choice issue and establishes a consumer-centric total cost of ownership model, which is composed by initial purchasing cost and operating cost, to compare the life-cycle cost of LSEVs using three different kinds of batteries including lead-acid, lithium-iron phosphate and ternary lithium-ion batteries. The results suggest that the vehicles using lead-acid batteries aren’t superior to those using other types of batteries in terms of life-cycle cost, and even the superiority in initial purchasing cost will gradually weaken over time, which provides a reference for product design and regulation development.
Keywords low-speed electric vehicle, life-cycle cost, lead-acid battery, lithium-ion battery, China