February 26, 2024

Copper, a symbolic metal with a rich history, is becoming a key player in the modern era of electric vehicles (EVs), where clean energy and sustainability play a crucial role. EVs, aimed at reducing carbon emissions and utilizing energy efficiently, are creating a new demand for copper, especially in the electrical systems of transportation.

Refined copper is a very versatile metal that is used in various applications in several different demand sectors: equipment manufacturing, construction, infrastructure, transportation, and industrial.

Refined Copper Usage by Sector

Equipment Manufacturing represents 32% of copper demand where it is used extensively in the production of various equipment and machinery, including electrical and electronic devices.

Construction accounts for 28% where it is used in electrical wiring, plumbing systems, roofing materials, and structural elements.

Infrastructure accounts for 16% of the demand where copper is a crucial element in electrical systems, telecommunications, and power generation.

Transportation accounts for 12% where it is used for various applications including wiring in vehicles, electrical components, and infrastructure for electric vehicles (EVs).

The Industrial sector also represents 12% of the total demand and is used in a wide range of applications, such as motors, generators, and other machinery.

The growth of the EV market will not only increase the market share of refined copper in the transportation sector going forward, but also Infrastructure as much new electrical transmission will be required to meet the drive to decarbonization.

Copper has always been used in the manufacturing of vehicles, however the amount of copper required varies significantly depending on the vehicle type. The amount of copper per car increases from about 23 kg for conventional cars with internal combustion engines, to 40 kg in Hybrid EVs (HEVs), 60 kg for Plug-in Hybrid EVs (PHEVs), and 83 kg in Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs) – more than triple conventional cars.  While cars are expected to make up the majority of the BEV market, truck and bus BEVs can use upwards of 370 kg of copper each.

Copper Requirements Per Vehicle Type

BEV cars account for almost three quarters of the copper demand from 2023-2030, including PHEVs these two types of EVs represent over 90% of the total. Of course, the growth in copper demand is directly related to the number of BEV cars which grows to 45 million units in 2030. This growth reflects the rising popularity of electric cars and the transition towards cleaner transportation options.

The total amount of copper used in BEV cars has grown sharply from just 1,000 tonnes in 2010 to about 1 million tonnes in 2023; that’s up 1 000 times over the past 13 years.  Demand growth is expected to accelerate through to 2030, increasing to about 3.6 million tonnes.

Copper For BEV Batteries 2010-2030

As noted earlier, demand for electric vehicles only represents about 12 percent of total copper demand. Incorrys believes that there will be sufficient copper supply to 2030 to satisfy demand for electrical vehicles worldwide, especially when considering additional factors such as advancements in battery technology, the improved efficiency of copper utilization, and material recycling.

However, there is a significant, longer-term, uncertainty on copper supply for the burgeoning electric vehicle market; partly due to demand requirements from the other sectors, but also the potential impacts given the politically instability in several large, copper producing regions.


  • Government of Canada. (2024, February 23). Copper Facts. https://natural-resources.canada.ca/our-natural-resources/minerals-mining/minerals-metals-facts/copper-facts/20506#L1
  • International Copper Association. (2017, June). The Electric Vehicle Market and Copper Demand. https:/copperalliance.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/2017.06-E-Mobility-Factsheet-1.pdf
  • International Energy Agency. (retrieved 2023, December). Global EV Data Explorer. https://www.iea.org/data-and-statistics/data-tools/global-ev-data-explorer
  • EV Volumes. (retrieved 2023, December). Global EV Sales for 2023. https://www.ev-volumes.com/country/total-world-plug-in-vehicle-volumes/