Copper price: Ford recall puts EV charging infrastructure in spotlight

Recall is for 2012-15 Ford Focus Electric, 2013-15 Ford Fusion Energi and 2013-15 Ford C-MAX Energi vehicles. 2017 Ford Focus Electric shown. Image: Ford

Ford has issued a recall for more than 50,000 120-volt so-called “convenience” charging cables sold to customers of its battery-powered and plug-in hybrid vehicles in North America.

According to a report in Collision Repair Magazine Ford said using the charging cord in an outlet that is not on a dedicated circuit, is damaged, worn or corroded could result in fires:

We already expect US EV penetration to lag other regions

CBC reported that the company had said there were a total of four reported fires but no injuries. In three of the fires, the owners were using extension cords, which is not recommended by the company.

A note from BMO Capital Markets said Ford’s announcement may be precedent setting and points out that in North America aluminum use in residential wiring as a substitute for copper is more widespread:

On a medium term perspective, it leaves car companies with two options – either rewrite literature to say charging at home will take longer or to potentially sell a domestic wiring upgrade add-on package with the car. We already expect US EV penetration to lag other regions.

According to BMO research copper “the push towards dispersed generation sources for renewable energy, and the need to support grid upgrades for electric vehicle charging” will account for 74% of all copper demand growth to 2025, equivalent to 5.5 million tonnes per year. The world’s mines produced just over 20m tonnes of copper last year.

Copper futures trading in New York gained on Friday to trade at $2.70 a pound ($5,950 a tonne). The bellwether metal is down more than 18% since hitting near four-year highs in June over fears of the impact of a trade war on global demand.