Copper Powers Electric Cars

Copper in Your Car — Even Hybrids!

There’s more than 50 pounds of copper in a typical American made automobile: about 40 pounds for electrical and about 10 pounds for nonelectrical components. Today’s luxury cars contain some 1,500 copper wires- totaling about one mile in length. To put it into perspective, in 1948, the average family car contained only about 55 wires, amounting to al length of 150 feet. 

The Toyota Prius uses 64 lbs of copper in every car. While the hybrid’s batteries are nickel based, a Prius still needs lots of copper wiring and computer chips to keep it on the road and cutting carbon emissions. Future generations of hybrid and electric cars plan on using even more copper as they strive to lower our dependence on fossil fuels.

Computers and wires aren’t the only improvements copper has contributed to in cars. New manufacturing processes for copper-and-brass automotive radiators produce new thin-walled radiators that perform better than their thicker-walled aluminum counterparts.

It’s not just consumer cars — alternative forms of transportation, from buses to electric trolleys and subways cars use an average of 2,300 pounds of copper apiece.