Copper demand for automotive to exceed 5MT in 2034, driven by electric batteries

Copper Demand for Cars 2024-2034: Trends, Utilization, Forecasts

Applications of copper in passenger cars, copper for electrification, copper for autonomous cars, copper for automotive wiring harness, technology trends, copper replacement, copper demand forecasts by region, application and more

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Copper is a key mineral in the production of passenger vehicles in the automotive industry. Its electrical and physical properties make it an ideal material to use for wiring, power transfer, and communications. This report identifies and analyses more than 30 different sources of copper in vehicles today, from small motors moving electrically adjusted seats, to traction motors driving electric vehicles. It considers the impact of electrification and the introduction of autonomous vehicles will have on automotive copper demand. The 10-year forecasts in this report show how these megatrends lead to total copper consumption ballooning to over 5MT per annum in 2034.
Copper in conventional cars
In conventional vehicles the component that demands the most copper is the wiring harness. This is the nervous system of the vehicle, ensuring all computers, sensors, actuators, lights, locks, and everything else can communicate with each other and receive power. In total, modern wiring harnesses can have thousands of connections, requiring kilometers of copper wire, adding up to tens of kilograms of copper per vehicle.
This report explains how the wiring loom has grown over the years and what new technologies are being used to rein in its growth. Substitution with aluminum, network optimization, and gauge reduction through 48V architectures are all being explored to reduce the size, weight, cost, and complexity of the wiring harness. Find out in this report how IDTechEx believes these technologies and alternatives will impact the copper intensity of the wiring loom over the next 10-years.
Away from the wiring, conventional vehicles using internal combustion engines also use copper in the starter motor and alternator. While this copper demand will be lost in the transition to fully electric vehicles, the demand will be more than made up for through the lithium-ion battery, electric traction motor, high voltage cables, and power electronics that enable battery electric vehicles.
Copper for electrification
Electrification is the biggest boon to automotive copper demand over the next 10 years. Paramount to this is copper's place in the electric battery, with copper foils being used in all electric vehicle lithium-ion cells. However, copper intensity in terms of kg/kWh is largely dependent on cathode chemistry. This report explains how the dominant chemistries, LFP, mid-nickel NMC, and high-nickel NMC, impact copper intensity in the battery pack. Forecasts in this report reveal how lithium-ion battery chemistry trends will shape copper consumption per vehicle over the forecast period.
The electric motor is another highly copper intensive component for electrification, with all automotive motors using copper in their windings. While much of the market uses PM (permanent magnet) motors, which have a middling copper intensity in the spectrum of motor options, there is an increased interest in rare earth free options to localize material supply and reduce price volatility. One leading option for rare earth free motors is the WRSM (wound rotor synchronous motor). These effectively replace the permanent magnets with a copper wire-based electromagnet, nearly doubling the copper intensity per kW of motor power. At the other end of the spectrum, axial flux motors offer incredible power density thanks to their unconventional design and form-factor. This high-power density means roughly one fifth of the copper per kW is required compared to traditional PM motors.
This report goes into further detail about different motor technologies, their market benefits and drawbacks, and their copper intensities. Its forecasts show how motor technology trends will unfold over the next decade, and the subsequent impact on copper demand for electrification.
Copper for automation
Automation of the passenger vehicle market is another megatrend within the automotive industry. Levels of autonomy range from the basic ADAS (advanced driver assistance system) features commonly on vehicles today, to fully driverless robotaxis providing autonomous mobility services. ADAS features such as adaptive cruise control, lane keep assistance systems, and blind spot detection rely on sensors such as cameras, radars, and LiDARs added to the vehicle. These additional sensors bring with them additional copper demand in the form of extra wiring and copper used in electronic circuit boards. While each sensor only contributes a copper intensity on the scale of tens to hundreds of grams, the quantity of sensors on highly autonomous vehicles, combined with the additional computer power, soon adds up to kilograms per vehicle.
With new technologies coming to market, such as consumer level 3 driving for the first time, and the commercialization of robotaxis, IDTechEx predicts automation to be the fastest growing copper demand, with a CAGR of 12.1% between 2023 and 2033. This report breaks down the sources of copper in all major sensor types and covers trends that will impact copper intensity in each.
This report provides detailed and granular coverage of all facets relating to copper intensity in the major copper consuming components in modern, electric, and autonomous vehicles. This detail is then collated into 10-year forecasts, broken down by regionality, powertrain type, SAE autonomous level, and copper application. The resulting product is a high quality and comprehensive report on the automotive copper market and copper demand.
Key aspects
Total copper consumption from the automotive sector with a focus on conventional applications, new demand from electrification, and new demand from automated driving technologies. Key aspects of this report include:
  • Copper intensities for components across the passenger vehicle
  • Technology trends in wiring harnesses, electrification, and automation that impact copper intensities
  • Technical benefits of copper compared to alternative materials and technologies
Report MetricsDetails
Historic Data2015 - 2023
CAGRCopper for automotive ADAS and autonomy to grow to at 10-year CAGR of 12.1%
Forecast Period2024 - 2034
Forecast Unitsunit sales, copper demand in kT (1,000,000kg)
Regions CoveredChina, Europe, United States, Worldwide
Segments CoveredCopper for non-powertrain applications (wiring loom, small motors and luxury features), copper for electrification (motor, battery, HV cables, power electronics), copper for automated technologies (camera, radar, LiDAR, computing)
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Table of Contents
1.1.Introduction and Overview of this Report
1.2.Key Report Takeaways
1.3.Scope of this Report
1.4.Copper in an ICE Car
1.5.Advantages of copper for wiring
1.6.Wiring Loom Forecast 2023-2034
1.7.Copper and Powertrain Electrification
1.8.Electric Traction Motors and their Copper
1.9.Copper Within Li-ion Cells
1.10.Cathode Market Share and Battery Pack Copper Intensity (2015-2034)
1.11.Copper for High Voltage Connections in an EV
1.12.Al HV Cables Market Adoption
1.13.Copper Within Power Electronics
1.14.SAE Levels of Automation in Cars
1.15.Copper for Automating Vehicles
1.16.Number of Sensors For Each Autonomy Level
1.17.Copper Required for a BEV Robotaxi
1.18.Copper Content per Vehicle 2020-2034
1.19.Automotive Market Forecast 2020-2034
1.20.Total Copper Demand Forecast 2020-2034
1.21.Forecast of Copper Demand by Main Applications 2020-2034
1.22.Copper Demand Forecast within Electrification Components 2020-2034
1.23.Copper Demand Forecast for Autonomous Technologies Forecast 2020-2034
2.1.1.Historic Copper Content
2.1.2.Copper in an ICE Car
2.2.Wiring Loom
2.2.1.The Wiring Loom
2.2.2.Wiring Loom: ICE Connections
2.2.3.Wiring Loom: Other Connections
2.2.4.Technical Advantages of Copper in the Wiring Loom
2.2.5.Other Advantages of Copper
2.2.6.Summary of Advantages of Copper for Wiring
2.2.7.Wiring Loom Cu Estimate: Method 1
2.2.8.Wiring Loom Cu Estimate: Method 2
2.2.9.Wiring Loom Cu Estimate: Method 3
2.2.10.Wiring Loom Cu Estimate: Method 4
2.2.11.Wiring Loom Reduction
2.2.12.Wiring Loom Reduction: Substitution and Gauge
2.2.13.Wiring Loom Reduction: Network Optimisation
2.2.14.Communication Protocols CAN vs Ethernet
2.2.15.Wiring Loom Growth
2.2.16.Wiring Loom Growth/Reduction Factor Forecast
2.2.17.Wiring Loom Forecast 2023-2034
2.2.18.Wiring Loom Summary
2.3.Starter, Alternator, Small Motors and Other
2.3.1.Bigger Non-Traction Motors in the Vehicle
2.3.2.Starter Motor and Alternator Copper Content
2.3.3.Starter motor
2.3.5.Small Motors
2.3.6.Power Steering and Anti-Lock Brakes
2.3.7.Fans and blowers
2.3.8.Small Motors in Luxury Features
2.3.9.Electric windows, wipers and mirrors
2.3.10.Electric Seats
2.3.11.Electric Tailgates and Electrically Adjusted Steering Column
2.3.12.Japanese Small Cars, Sliding Seats and Doors
2.3.14.Airconditioning and Thermal Management- Condenser and Evaporator Cores
2.3.15.A/C and Thermal Management Now Completely Aluminium
2.3.16.Other Components
2.3.17.Copper from ICE Cars
2.3.18.Non-Powertrain Copper
2.3.19.Summary and Conclusions
3.1.1.Electric Motors
3.1.2.Summary of Traction Motor Types
3.1.3.Materials Used in Electric Motors
3.2.Rotor and Stator Windings
3.2.1.Aluminium vs Copper in Rotors
3.2.2.Round Wire vs Hairpins for Copper in Stators
3.2.3.Round vs Bar Windings: OEMs
3.2.4.Hairpin Winding Regional Market Shares
3.2.5.Aluminium vs Copper Windings
3.2.6.Compressed Aluminum Windings
3.2.7.Aluminum Windings: Players
3.3.Electric Motor Market Trends
3.3.1.Convergence on PM by Major Automakers
3.3.2.Motor Number, Type and Power Trends: Global 2015-2022
3.3.3.Motor Trends That Could Impact Copper Utilisation
3.3.4.Magnet Price Increase Risk
3.3.5.Reducing Rare-Earths Can Increase Copper
3.4.Axial Flux Motors
3.4.1.Radial vs Axial Flux Motors
3.4.2.Axial Flux Motors Enter the EV Market
3.4.3.Copper for Axial Flux Motors
3.5.In-Wheel Motors
3.5.1.In-Wheel Motors: Benefits
3.5.2.In-Wheel Motors: Downsides
3.5.3.Examples of Vehicles with In-Wheel Motors
3.5.4.Copper for In-Wheel Motors
3.5.5.Future of In-Wheel Motors
3.6.Electric Motor Copper Intensity Examples
3.6.1.Audi e-tron Induction Motor
3.6.2.BMW i3 Permanent Magnet Motor
3.6.3.BMW Wound Rotor Motor
3.6.4.Renault Zoe Wound Rotor Design
3.6.5.Tesla Model S ACIM Cu Calculation
3.6.6.Tesla Induction Motor
3.6.7.Tesla Model 3 Permanent Magnet Motor
3.6.8.Copper Content in BEV Electric Traction Motors (Cars)
3.6.9.Copper Estimates in HEV Car Motors
3.6.10.Copper Estimates in BEV Car Motors
3.6.11.Copper Intensity in Different Drivetrains
3.7.Forecasts and Assumptions
3.7.1.Commentary on Electric Traction Motor Trends in Cars
3.7.2.Automotive Electric Motor Copper Forecast (Drivetrain) 2015-2034
3.7.3.Automotive Electric Motor Copper Forecast (Motor Type) 2015-2034
3.7.4.Automotive Electric Motor Copper Forecast (Region) 2015-2034
4.1.1.What is a Li-ion Battery?
4.1.2.Lithium Battery Chemistries
4.1.3.Li-ion Batteries: From Cell to Pack
4.1.4.Materials Found in Cells and Battery Packs
4.1.5.Where is copper used in a Li-ion battery cell?
4.1.6.Why use copper as the anode current collector?
4.1.7.Are there alternatives to copper?
4.1.8.Technological impacts on copper use over the next 10 years
4.1.9.Copper in other batteries?
4.1.10.Introduction to copper material intensity and demand
4.1.11.Copper Intensity Changes with Chemistry
4.1.12.Copper Intensity by Cathode Chemistry
4.1.13.Anode Materials
4.1.14.Copper Intensity by Anode Chemistry
4.1.15.Copper Intensity by Cell Design Factors
4.1.16.Copper intensity by cell design factors
4.1.17.Examples of Thin Current collectors
4.1.18.Copper intensity for hybrids
4.1.19.Routes to better Li-ion and alternatives
4.1.20.Impact of next-gen BEV battery technology
4.1.21.IDTechEx Li-ion battery timeline
4.1.22.Is there potential for copper reduction?
4.1.23.Next generation technologies
4.2.BEV Batteries
4.2.1.Cathode Market Share for Li-ion in EVs (2015-2033)
4.2.2.Average Li-ion cell copper intensity outlook
4.2.3.Current copper use in BEV battery packs
4.2.4.Introduction to Battery Interconnects
4.2.5.Aluminum vs Copper for Interconnects
4.2.6.Copper use in BEV battery packs
4.2.7.Cell-to-Pack Trends
4.2.8.Shifts in cell and pack design
4.2.9.Copper per BEV battery pack
4.2.10.Copper Content of BEV, PHEV, HEV, and FCEV Batteries
4.2.11.Battery Pack Copper Forecast (Drivetrain) 2015-2034
5.1.1.High Voltage Connections in an EV
5.1.2.Common Cable Specifications by Connection
5.1.3.Shielded vs Unshielded Cables
5.1.4.Tesla High Voltage Cables
5.1.5.BEV Examples
5.1.6.High Voltage Cable Length Trends
5.2.Core Conductor
5.2.1.Copper vs Aluminum Cables
5.2.2.Aluminium HV Cabling Disadvantages
5.2.3.Electrical Properties
5.2.6.Al HV Cable Manufacturers for EVs
5.2.7.Al HV Cable Manufacturers for EVs
5.2.8.Tesla Model 3 Al Cable
5.2.9.Al HV Cables Market Adoption
5.2.10.High Voltage Cable Copper Forecast (Drivetrain) 2015-2034
5.2.11.High Voltage Cable Copper Forecast (Region) 2015-2034
6.1.1.What is Power Electronics?
6.1.2.Power Electronics Use in Electric Vehicles
6.1.3.Benchmarking Silicon, Silicon Carbide & Gallium Nitride Semiconductors
6.1.4.Traditional EV Inverter
6.1.5.Discretes & Modules
6.1.6.Power Discretes and Power Modules
6.1.7.Module Packaging Material Dimensions
6.1.8.SiC Die Area Reduction
6.1.9.Advanced Wire Bonding Techniques
6.1.10.Tesla's SiC package
6.1.11.Multi-Layered Printed Circuit Boards
6.1.12.Tesla Model 3 Inverter PCB
6.1.13.Nissan Leaf Inverter PCB
6.1.14.Copper Intensity in Si IGBT EV Inverter
6.1.15.Copper Intensity in Silicon Carbide EV Inverter
6.1.16.Inverter Trends: Impact on Copper
6.1.17.Tesla Onboard Charger
6.1.18.OBC Copper Intensity
6.1.19.DC DC Converter Copper Intensity
6.1.20.Copper Intensity in Power Electronics
6.1.21.Power Electronics Copper Forecast (Drivetrain) 2020-2034
6.1.22.Power Electronics Copper Forecast (Component) 2020-2034
6.1.23.Power Electronics Copper Forecast (Region) 2020-2034
6.1.24.Power Electronics Key Conclusions
6.2.Summary of Copper for Powertrains
6.2.1.Copper and Powertrain Electrification
6.2.2.Powertrain Copper Forecast 2015-2034
7.1.1.SAE Levels of Automation in Cars
7.1.2.Each Sensors Key Appeals in an Autonomous Vehicle
7.1.3.Copper in Autonomous Sensors
7.1.4.Copper in Autonomous Vehicles
7.1.5.Key Radar Trend: Size Reduction
7.1.6.Radar Copper Content
7.1.7.Radar Board Shrinkage and Impact on Copper
7.1.8.Diverging Radar Types
7.1.9.Camera Copper Content
7.1.10.Impact of Late Sensor Fusion
7.1.11.LiDAR Copper Content
7.1.12.Important Trends In LiDAR
7.1.13.ADCU - Autonomous Driving Control Unit
7.2.The Developing Autonomous Cars Market
7.2.1.Transition to Higher Levels of Autonomy in Private Cars
7.2.2.Case Study: Mercedes S-Class (2021), EQS (2022)
7.2.3.Mercedes S-class - Sensor Suite
7.2.4.Case study - Audi A8 (2017)
7.2.5.Tesla's Sensor Suite
7.2.6.Sensors in Private Autonomous Vehicles
7.2.7.Emergence of level 3 and Level 4 Technologies
7.2.8.Level 4 Robotaxis are Different From Privately Owned Level 4
7.2.9.State of development
7.2.10.Waymo Sensor Suite
7.2.11.Cruise Sensor Suite
7.2.12.Robotaxi Testing and Deployment Locations
7.2.13.Total Sensors For Level 0 to Level 4 and Robotaxis
7.2.14.Number of Sensors For Each Autonomy Level
7.2.15.Total Copper to Automate Vehicles
7.2.16.Autonomous and ADAS Sensors Forecast 2020-2034
7.2.17.Copper Demand for Autonomous Technologies Forecast 2020-2034
8.2.Addressable Market Forecast (SAE Level) 2020-2034
8.3.Addressable Market Forecast (Powertrain) 2015-2034
8.4.Addressable Market Forecast (Region) 2015-2034
8.5.Total Copper Demand (all components) 2020-2034
8.6.Total Copper Demand (Main Applications) 2020-2034
8.7.Total Copper Demand (Region) 2020-2034
8.8.Copper for Electrification (Components) 2020-2034
8.9.Copper for Electrification (Powertrain) 2020-2034
8.10.Copper for Electrification (Regions) 2020-2034
8.11.Copper Demand for Autonomous Technologies Forecast 2020-2034
8.12.Copper For Automation (SAE Level)
8.13.Copper For Automation (Region)

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Report Statistics

Slides 248
Forecasts to 2034
Published Dec 2023
ISBN 9781835700037

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