Home > Electric Vehicles > CDA Predicts a Positive Outlook for Electric Powertrains & Copper (Part 1 of 3)

CDA Predicts a Positive Outlook for Electric Powertrains & Copper (Part 1 of 3)

March 14th, 2011

The Future is Now for Electric Vehicles

By Bob Weed, CDA Vice President OEM, attended the SAE 2011 Hybrid Vehicle Technologies Symposium in Anaheim, Feb. 9-11, 2011. SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) International is a global association of more than 128,000 engineers and related technical experts in the aerospace, automotive and commercial vehicle industries.

I recently attended the SAE 2011 Hybrid Vehicle Technologies Symposium and came away with a renewed enthusiasm for the outlook of copper over the next five years, particularly when it comes to its use in electric vehicles. What will the automotive industry look like by 2020? Industry experts say that 5-10% of all vehicles will be extended-range or pure electric. That makes it vital for EV technologies to become more efficient and capable of producing mass quantities.

Currently, the market penetration for hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) is only 2-3% in North America. At current sales levels, this amounts to about 275,000 vehicles annually. If the economy improves and consumers continue to embrace this technology, it’s estimated that sales could increase to one-two million vehicles a year, and that’s just in North America. Even the most pessimistic projection at this conference had HEV sales growing to 4% of all U.S. vehicles sold by 2015. And although projections for plug-in and battery EVs are modest right now, the consensus at the conference was that they would continue to grow in market share.

Under the hood of a typical EV

For the copper industry, that’s good news. The superior conductivity and durability of copper make it the preferred material for high voltage wires and connectors. Copper is an integral part of both nickel-metal hydride (NiMH) and lithium-ion batteries used by automakers. It’s also the preferred material for cables, electronics and heavy duty connectors used on vehicle chargers and other EVSE (electric vehicle supply equipment.)


Electric vehicles aren’t just an idea in the future. The reality is that the technology is here and automakers are working hard to make EVs more accessible to consumers. The increased use of electrically-fueled vehicles is good for U.S. energy independence, good for the environment and has a very positive impact on the amount of copper that’s used in a vehicle.

If you’d like to learn more about the use of copper in EV technology, check out the CDA website, or email me, rweed@cda.copper.org.

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