“Copper use in automotive wire harness is ubiquitous, and it is a critical element in a vehicle’s manufacturing,” said Colin Bennett, global manager, market intelligence and data, ICA. “As the data shows, the potential for substitution in automotive wire harness is limited through 2020.”
According to the study, growth in electronics feature content (i.e., infotainment/navigation, telemetry, automated safety systems and autonomous driving demand), as well as the expanding production of electric and hybrid vehicles, will create a surge for the automotive copper market. Electric and hybrid vehicles require more copper use due to higher power/voltage requirements necessary for that category. The study reveals overall global vehicle production is expected to increase from about 92,500,000 total vehicles in 2016 to almost 102,000,000 by 2020.
A wire harness is the set of wires, terminals and connectors running throughout the entire vehicle. It relays information and electric power to keep the vehicle’s components communicating with each other. The wire harness plays a critical role in a vehicle’s overall operation and reliability. Copper is widely used and highly regarded in the automotive market due to its high conductivity, ductility and reliability in transmitting electrical information from one system to another.
While weight and cost are cited as the primary drivers for potential material substitution, the evolution of the automobile plays an important role in the use of copper. Since manufacturers are looking to produce smaller and lighter vehicles, they need hardware to support those efforts without losing quality. As they look into smaller gauge wires to support increased feature content and combat overall vehicle weight, copper remains the preferred material to handle these issues.