Copper use in automotive wire harness will continue to grow according to new research commissioned by the International Copper Association (ICA). The research, conducted by Martec Group, found that the average weight of copper use per vehicle in automotive wire harnesses globally increased from 11.0 kg in 2016 to 12.6 kg in 2019—an increase of 14.5%.
The increase is driven primarily by electrification and customer demand for larger vehicles, such as pickup trucks, SUVs, and full- sized vans. Developing countries/regions (China, South Asia, South America) have seen the most growth in copper demand, according to the study, which projects that this will likely continue to be the trend.
Copper weight per vehicle vaires widely by region—from an average 8.9 kg in South America to 17.6 kg in North America. On average, China has surpassed Europe in copper content in wire harnesses primarily driven by growth of electrified vehicles and further increases in feature content.
The study forecasts that by 2030, there will be an additional 300,000 metric tons of copper in wire harnesses each year (and growing) due to vehicle electrification technologies (hybrids, battery EVs, 48V, start/stop systems, etc.)
In the medium term, hybrid vehicles will add the most copper, while battery-electric EVs will require more copper in the longer term (closer to 2030 and beyond).