Growth spurred by on-board ‘infotainment’ systems will be offset by the trend toward thinner and thinner copper wire

Jun 01, 2010 | 05:39 AM | Myra Pinkham

Copper continues to rev up usage in automotive wiring applications as additional electrical and electronic components are added to light vehicles, but other factors— moves to smaller-gauge wires and material substitution—are slowing the drive in terms of growth rates.

Overall, the amount of copper wiring in cars and light trucks has increased steadily over the past 15 years or so, especially in luxury vehicles, according to Bob Weed, president of original equipment manufacturing (OEM) markets at the New York-based Copper Development Association.

This is evidenced by the fact that the number of electrical circuits in the average large, high-end car, such as a Buick or a Cadillac, has doubled to about 2,600 in the past 10 years. Midsized vehicles and light trucks have seen similar growth, although perhaps not quite as pronounced, he said.

Kevin Krizman, assistant director of technology at the International Copper Association, also based in New York, estimated that the average light vehicle contains about 45 pounds of copper.

Weed estimated that copper wire accounts for 20 to 25 pounds of this total, although the copper wire content of a large luxury car—with loads of additional options—is as much as 30 to 40 pounds.....

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