How Copper Powers the Electric Vehicle Revolution

How Copper Powers the Electric Vehicle Revolution

Electric vehicles (EVs) are more than just a trend. They are a driving force in society’s efforts to build a more sustainable future, reducing carbon emissions, saving costs, and creating new jobs. But what’s powering EVs? The answer is copper, the metal of choice for EVs and their infrastructure.

Copper’s Role in EVs

Copper is an essential material component of EVs. It is used in electric motors, batteries, inverters, wiring and in charging stations because of its durability, malleability, reliability and superior electrical conductivity. Copper’s conductivity is second only to silver, but it is much more abundant and affordable.

According to the Copper Development Association, an EV can use between 85 and 183 pounds of copper, depending on the type and size of the vehicle. This is more than double the amount of copper used in a conventional internal combustion engine vehicle, which uses about 40 pounds of copper.

There are generally three types of EVs, each requiring more copper than a traditional vehicle:

✅ Hybrid Electric Vehicles (HEVs) utilize a gasoline engine and an electric motor that work simultaneously to increase fuel efficiency. The gasoline engine also charges the battery that powers the electric motor. HEVs use about 85 pounds of copper.

Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEVs) operate primarily on the electric motor, using the gasoline engine purely as a back-up once the battery has run out of power. In order to recharge the battery, the PHEV must be plugged in. PHEVs use about 132 pounds of copper.

✅ Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs) run completely on a battery-powered electric motor and require charging. BEVs use about 183 pounds of copper.

Copper’s Role in EV Infrastructure

Copper is also an indispensable component of the infrastructure needed to support EV charging. To power the EVs of both today and tomorrow, a network of millions of charging ports will be needed within the next decade. According to the International Energy Agency, there were about 7.3 million chargers worldwide at the end of 2019, of which about 6.5 million were private, light-duty vehicle slow chargers. By 2030, the agency projects that there will be about 290 million chargers, of which about 266 million will be private.

Copper is used in the wiring, cables, connectors, and transformers of the charging stations, as well as in the smart grid technology that enables the integration of renewable energy sources and demand management. The amount of copper used in charging stations varies depending on the power and design of the station, but it can range from 15 to 20 pounds for a Level 1 or Level 2 charger, to more than 800 pounds for a fast charger.

India’s Position in the Copper Market

India is one of the fastest-growing markets for EVs and copper in the world. According to a report by International Copper Association India, the country’s copper demand grew by 27% in FY22, reaching 1.2 million tonnes. The report also estimates that India will need 1.9 million tonnes of copper by 2026, driven by the growth of EVs and their infrastructure, as well as other sectors such as power, telecom, railways, and defence.

India has the potential to become a global leader in the EV and copper industry, as it has abundant resources, skilled manpower, and supportive policies. However, the country also faces some challenges, such as:

✅ Limited Domestic Production: India’s domestic copper production has declined in recent years due to the closure of some major smelters and refineries. As a result, India has become a net importer of copper, relying on countries like Chile, Peru, and Zambia for its supply. This exposes the country to price fluctuations and supply disruptions in the global market.

✅ High Cost of EVs and Charging Infrastructure: The high upfront cost of EVs and the lack of adequate charging infrastructure are some of the major barriers for the adoption of EVs in India. The government has taken some initiatives to address these issues, such as the Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Hybrid and Electric Vehicles (FAME) scheme, which provides subsidies and incentives for EV manufacturers and consumers, and the National Electric Mobility Mission Plan (NEMMP), which aims to create a roadmap for the development of EVs and their infrastructure in the country.

✅ Low Awareness and Consumer Preference: The awareness and preference for EVs among the Indian consumers are still low, as many people are concerned about the performance, reliability, and maintenance of EVs, as well as the availability and accessibility of charging stations. The government and the industry need to work together to create more awareness and education campaigns, as well as to showcase the benefits and advantages of EVs and copper over conventional vehicles and fuels.

Benefits of EVs and Copper

The adoption of EVs and the expansion of EV infrastructure have multiple benefits for the environment, the economy, and society. Some of these benefits are:

Reduced Pollution: The transportation sector is the largest source of carbon dioxide emissions in India and many other countries. The continued integration of EVs will help reduce this impact because they produce 54 per cent less carbon dioxide emissions per mile than a conventional vehicle, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. EVs also reduce air pollution and noise pollution, improving public health and quality of life.

Cost Savings: EVs are more energy-efficient than conventional vehicles, converting 59 to 62 percent of the electrical energy to vehicle movement, compared to 17 to 21 percent for gasoline vehicles. EV drivers also spend less on fuel and maintenance, saving an average of $632 per year, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

Economic Growth: The transition to EVs can create new jobs and industries, particularly in skilled electrical trades. According to a report by the International Copper Association, the global copper industry could create more than 500,000 jobs by 2030, as a result of increased copper demand from EVs and their infrastructure. The report also estimates that the copper industry could contribute more than $90 billion to the global GDP by 2030.


Copper is a key enabler of the EV revolution, providing the necessary conductivity, durability, and reliability for vehicles and their infrastructure. As the demand for EVs and charging stations grows, so will the demand for copper, creating new opportunities and challenges for the copper industry and society. Copper is not only a metal of the past, but also a metal of the future.