Platinum group metal businesses were told they have nothing to fear from the rise of all-electric vehicles at the Auto Catalyst and Fuel Seminar last week.
The two-day event, hosted by International Precious Metal Institute in Atlanta, Georgia, brought together analysts, recyclers and manufacturers in the PGM and autocatalyst space.
All-electric cars use little to no platinum group metals, while standard internal-combustion engines need platinum, palladium and rhodium to reduce emissions.
More than 90% of new passenger vehicles are now fitted with catalysts, says manufacturer Johnson Matthey. But, all-electric vehicles are estimated to take 55% of the overall automobile sales by 2040, according to Bloomberg.
Despite the diminished share for internal combustion engines, the shifting landscape will benefit the PGM industry:
Overall Growing Market Share – While internal-combustion engine (ICE) vehicle sales are estimated to drop by half in 20 years from now, ICE vehicles will still have nearly half of the world’s market. Absolute sales numbers will still be healthy as emerging markets buy more cars. Ever-increasing regulation will also increase PGM demand for the next generation of ICE vehicles.
Fuel Cell Technology – While all-electric vehicles have eclipsed fuel cell technology, hydrogen-powered trucks and cars have a role to play. Fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEV) also require a catalyst and use PGMs. Matt Watson, analyst at Precious Metals Commodity Management and keynote presenter at the seminar, says fuel cell technology has two key advantages: weight and refuel time.
Fuel cell technology has found a home in industrial applications, powering buses, trains, ships and long-haul trucks. Fork lifts are a good application of fuel cell technology, says Watson. There is very little down-time and no emissions.
Watson estimates 18,000 FCEV are currently sold annually. Demand will balloon to 270,000 in 2025 and one million by 2030.
General Technology Lift – Watson says battery vehicles are having a large impact on the automobile industry. Paradigms are shifting, which is also good for FCEV.
“Fuel cell technology is productized. It is a mature industry that is growing,” says Watson.
Reuters estimates that 250 startups in the electrification race have attracted more than US$20 billion in venture capital.
“And everything batteries do we are going to leverage off the technology,” notes Watson.