The Effects Electric Vehicles Will Have on Copper Scrap



While it’s hard to tell what the future will bring, some scenarios are a bit easier to predict than others. The electric vehicle revolution is in full force, and auto manufacturers are scrambling to plan how they’ll fit in. One thing is for sure in all this: the EV market will have a substantial impact on the copper from its mining, distribution, and price. We’re all in for a bumpy ride, so let’s strap in. 

Regular Ol’ Gas Powered Vehicle…

What You Can Scrap From Your Car

A gas-powered vehicle comprises a few recyclable components: the combustion engine, radiator, alternator, gas tank, lead-acid battery, and catalytic converter(s), not to mention the car body itself. By breaking down the car into these different pieces, you can make a whole lot more off your junk car than you would if you sold the car to your yard as is. 

Other recyclable metals on a car?

Have a common car? It may be worth more at a salvage yard. When you bring your scrap car to a salvage yard they may be able to sell various parts from it for repairs, so it may be worth more money for them to buy from you, knowing they can “part it out” to various customers looking for specific repairs.

Suggested Read: What Scrap Metals Can Be Found In A Car?

What You Can Scrap From An Electric Vehicle

The electric vehicle [EV] market seems to be all anyone can talk about at the moment. But with the rise in a more eco-friendly mode of transportation, scrappers may be thinking: what does this mean for us? Well, let’s break down your basic electric vehicle. EVs are made up of: an electric motor, electronic controller, rechargeable lithium-ion battery, and a household plug.  

What Are the recyclable metals on an EV?

  • Aluminum – the EV skeleton, also called a space frame, needs to be strong and lightweight; aluminum rims. 
  • Lead-acid battery – still commonly used if it is a hybrid vehicle; they are inexpensive, safe, and reliable.
  • Lithium-Ion Batteries – although they have a negative scrap value at present, this area is being developed and may one day have a positive scrap value.
  • Copper – a MAJOR component of the E.V. revolution, to be further discussed below.

How Much Copper Is In Electric Vehicles?
Where to find scrap copper

About 183 lbs of copper can be found inside electric vehicles. A pure electric vehicle can contain more than a mile of copper wiring in its stator windings.

Your conventional gas-powered vehicle, on average, has between 20-50lbs of copper between the starter, alternator, electronics, wiring harness, and battery.

So what exactly does this mean for scrappers?

There is no need to worry! For starters, junk cars aren’t going away any time soon; at this very moment, there are more than 287 million registered vehicles on the road in the United States. I’d say you have plenty of time to scrap those scrap cars and catalytic converters.

But even when the day comes, in a very distant future from now, that gas-powered cars are gone and EV rules all, there will STILL be plenty to scrap. The 184 lbs of copper alone proves that. The increasing demand for copper will, theoretically, significantly impact the copper market.

The Copper Alliance predicts by 2027, an estimated 27 million electric vehicles will be on the road and that copper demand for EVs will rise to over 3 million tonnes, versus the 185,000 tonnes in 2017.

Another example? EV infrastructure is a huge component of President Biden’s several trillion-dollar infrastructure plans, and EV charging stations alone will need 250% more copper by 2030. Where is all this copper going to come from? Well, that’s a story for another day.

Higher Demand = Higher Prices

So smile, scrappers! Soon you’ll have all the scrap copper your heart desires, and in the meantime, keep scrapping those junk cars! 




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