Consumers clamor for more electronic gadetry while automakers push drawers and fabricators for ever-smaller gauges of copper wire

Jun 01, 2010 | 05:37 AM | Myra Pinkham

While U.S. automakers are using more copper wiring in their vehicles, the growing number of applications doesn't necessarily signal a boon for domestic wire drawers and fabricators.

Two key factors account for this an ongoing push toward wires with smaller gauge and wall sizes, and a looming threat of material substitution. Copper wire producers' business also fluctuates with the inclination of customers—especially insulation producers—to integrate and produce their own wire.

There is no question that consumers are demanding more and more electronic gadgets and advanced creature comforts in their vehicles, including such things as power and heated seats, power windows and "infotainment" devices such as navigation systems and video players, an executive at a major copper wire fabricator said. "All of this drives demand for copper wiring," the executive added.

Whether this demand will benefit copper wire fabricators and drawers is contingent on a number of variables, including whether insulation companies, which have become increasingly vertically integrated over the years, will opt to fabricate the wire themselves or farm that business out to wire drawers, he said.

"There has been a long-time trend of more insulator companies fabricating copper into wire, assembling the wire with their insulation and selling the finished product to harness manufacturers," the fabricator executive said. "But more recently, with the economic downturn, some insulators are going back to using outside wire fabricators like us, rather than doing it themselves."....

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