Copper Development Assoc at the BPI 2011 in Dearborn, MI

Copper Development Association believes EVs are here to stay

Touting 2011 as the Year of the Electric Vehicle and that the EV is here to stay, the Copper Development Association (CDA) also reports that special thanks must go to the metal, copper, as a mighty contributor to the innovative technology that supports electric vehicles – from charging stations to power electronics and batteries.
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All too often the media will focus on the new technology in town, when it is the old technology or material that makes the new technology viable.

For the record, this TorqueNews reporter met Bob Weed, Copper Development Association OEM vice president at the Business of Plugging In (BPI) conference this fall. And it was clear then that copper is a key player in the EV, perhaps more than the lithium-ion battery.

Think about it: The battery system may change from lithium-ion to a fuel cell in the not-too-distant future, but copper will still be a key component of the electric motors that power the electric vehicle.

On an acceptance level, the EV is gaining in both popularity and purchases. For example, both the Chevy Volt and Nissan Leaf proved popular with consumers in their first year of production. According to a Consumer Reports survey released this month, 93 percent of respondents who own the Volt said they would definitely buy it again, making it the highest-rated car in the nationally representative survey.

And don’t let that single NHTSA crash test which produced a fire three weeks late fool you. Read TorqueNews Exclusive: Fred Fresard, attorney for Dykema, addresses Chevy Volt fire . The EV is no less safe than any other vehicle on the road; in many cases, perhaps safer. The Volt narrowly edged out the V8-powered Dodge Challenger and the Porsche 911, each with owner-satisfaction scores of 91 percent.

In addition, the Nissan Leaf won Car of the Year Japan at the Tokyo Motor show this month, the first time an electric vehicle has picked up the award. Since the Leaf’s launch late last year, Nissan has sold some 20,000 vehicles mostly in the United States and Japan.

The Volt will reach the 10,000 mark in vehicle sales in early 2012, GM Vice President of Sales Don Johnson said earlier this month. The Volt was Car & Driver magazine’s 2011 North American Car of the Year and the Leaf was named the 2011 World Car of The Year at the New York Auto Show.

The popularity of the electric vehicle is good both for the auto industry and will contribute to a greener environment less dependent on foreign oil, says Bob Weed, CDA Vice President OEM.

“The use of more electrically-fueled vehicles is good for energy independence in this country, good for the environment and will have a very positive impact on the amount of copper that’s used in a vehicle," Weed says.

What does all this have to do with copper?

Copper plays an important role in all electric vehicle technologies. It’s found in propulsion motors, regenerative braking systems and battery-pack conductors, as well as traditional applications, such as electrical and electronic equipment, audio-visual accessories and wiring harnesses. Studies have shown that hybrids and EVs contain between two-and-a-half and three times the weight of copper as found in their internal combustion engine counterparts.

“The copper industry will supply manufacturers with highly conductive copper and copper alloys – a key resource for the EV,” Weed says.

Automotive Copper Facts to Consider

- The average car produced in North America has 50-55 pounds of copper in it. In an electric car, that amount will triple – to 150-180 pounds.
- More than two-thirds of the copper will be found in car’s wiring harness and electrical components.
- Copper has the highest conductivity of any metal that can be practically used for conveying electricity.
- Copper is an important natural resource and there’s no danger of running out of it. According to US Geological Survey (USGS), worldwide resources of this valuable metal exceed 3 billion metric tons (more than 6.5 trillion pounds), of which only about 12% has been mined throughout history. Nearly all of this is still in circulation because copper’s recycling rate is higher than that of any engineering metal.
- Each year in the U.S., nearly as much copper is recovered from recycled material as is derived from newly mined ore.

Top 5 Reasons for Driving an EV

1) EVs will reduce U.S. oil dependence: The United States imported about 49% of the petroleum, which includes crude oil and refined petroleum products, consumed in 2010, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Most of the world's oil reserves are concentrated in the Middle East, and about two-thirds are controlled by OPEC members. Oil price shocks and price manipulation by OPEC have cost our economy dearly—about $1.9 trillion from 2004 to 2008—and each major shock was followed by a recession. We may never eliminate our need to import oil, but we can reduce cartel market control and the economic impact of price shocks by reducing our demand.

2) EVs are energy efficient & environmentally friendly: Electric motors convert 75% of the chemical energy from the batteries to power the wheels—internal combustion engines (ICEs) only convert 20% of the energy stored in gasoline. EVs emit no tailpipe pollutants, although the power plant producing the electricity may emit them. Electricity from nuclear-, hydro-, solar-, or wind-powered plants causes no air pollutants.

3) EVs can meet the needs of most driving consumers: According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, most Americans drive fewer than 30 miles a day. The occasional long-distance drive can be done with a second vehicle that is a plug-in hybrid, or by renting or borrowing another vehicle. According to Nissan, the Leaf will travel 100 miles before it needs recharging. The Chevy Volt has a range of 40 miles on a battery charge and then the gasoline-powered generator kicks in for re-charging, which could extend the range to about 200 miles.

4) EV purchasers receive tax breaks: EVs purchased in or after 2010 may be eligible for a federal income tax credit of up to $7,500 for the cars and $2,000 for installing a home-charging station. The credit amount will vary based on the capacity of the battery used to fuel the vehicle. Running an EV costs less than a gasoline-powered car. On average, it will be less than $1 to charge a plug-in hybrid and $2-4 for an all-electric car. Your overall energy bill will be lowered by driving with electricity.

5) EVs are reliable and fun to drive: EVs require no oil changes or tune-ups. There are 10 times fewer moving parts than a gasoline-powered car. There’s no engine, transmission, spark plugs, valves, fuel tank, tailpipe, distributor, starter, clutch, muffler or catalytic converter. Electric vehicles product almost instant torque, which creates immediate acceleration. When the driver of an EV pushes down on the accelerator pedal, the transition from stationary to speed is almost instantaneous.

Sources: Copper Development Association, http://www.fueleconomy.gov, http://www.pluginamerica.org, U.S. Department of Transportation

TorqueNews final note: Now if we can only get the cost of EVs to be affordable for the masses!

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About the Reporter: After 39 years in the auto industry as a design engineer, Frank Sherosky now trades stocks, futures and writes articles, books and ebooks like, "Perfecting Corporate Character," "Awaken Your Speculator Mind", and "Millennial World Order" via authorfrank.com. He may be contacted here by email: [email protected] or via his Twitter i.d. @Authorfranks

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Additional Reading:
Copper Development Association scores well at The Business of Plugging In 2011
TorqueNews Exclusive: Fred Fresard, attorney for Dykema, addresses Chevy Volt fire
Pike Research issues 10 electric vehicle predictions for 2012
GM needs more IC engine tech than BMW rumor has to offer for Volt propulsion


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