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PHOTO CAPTION: Chevrolet Volt electric hybrid generator/motor system.

Copper Development Association Endorses Electric Cars

Industry group offers five reasons to buy an electric vehicle in this pre-Christmas press released.

Published: 31-Dec-2010

NEW YORK -- Putting together your holiday wish list? It won’t fit in your stocking, but consider an electric vehicle (EV) – the car that’s reinvigorating Americans’ romance with the road.

The Nissan Leaf and Chevy Volt will be available for sale this month. And Americans are interested. A 2010 Consumer Reports survey of 1,713 adult car owners found that 39% of car shoppers are considering a hybrid or electric vehicle for their next new-car purchase. Overall, 63% of those surveyed said they expected to get a significant increase in fuel economy, regardless of the type of vehicle they buy. By comparison, only 14% of new car buyers said they are currently considering diesel-powered cars.
Two EV models from major auto companies were launched in 2010. The all-electric Nissan Leaf will begin delivering cars this month. General Motors’ Chevrolet Volt, which will run on plug-in power and have a range-extending, gasoline-powered generator, went on sale in November. The Volt will be introduced in Michigan, California, and Washington, D.C., before going nationwide.

Curiosity about the EV has piqued both the public and car experts. For the first time, editors at Car and Driver included an electric vehicle – the Chevy Volt – in its 10 Best Cars for 2011. The Nissan Leaf was named 2011 European Car of the Year, the first time the award has gone to an electric car.
And General Motors announced this month plans to hire 1,000 electric-vehicle engineers and researchers over the next two years. GM plans to build 10,000 Volts by the end of 2011 and at least 45,000 in 2012.

Copper: An Essential Metal for EVs

What does all this have to do with copper? Quite a bit, actually. 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,” says Bob Weed, vice president of original equipment manufacturing for the Copper Development Association (CDA). “The increased use of electrically-fueled vehicles is good for U.S. energy independence in this country, good for the environment and has a very positive impact on the amount of copper that’s used in a vehicle.”

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.

So, why ask Santa for an EV this holiday season?

Top 5 Reasons to Buy an EV

1. EVs will reduce U.S. oil dependence: Today, over half of the oil we use is imported (57%), and our dependence will increase as we use up domestic resources. 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, www.fueleconomy.gov, www.pluginamerica.org, U.S. Department of Transportation

About the Copper Development Association

The Copper Development Association Inc. is the market development, engineering and information services arm of the copper industry, chartered to enhance and expand markets for copper and its alloys in North America

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