EDITOR NOTE: According to a Silver Institute report, the photovoltaic industry is forecasted to use up to 98 million ounces (Moz) this year. Whether silver prices have accounted for this demand or not, the grey metal ended last year (2020) up nearly 50%, significantly outperforming gold’s 23% and the S&P 500’s 14%. We know that industrial demand is one factor that drives up silver prices. But as automakers are increasingly entering the electric vehicle space, their demand for silver is projected to eventually rival even that of the photovoltaic industry, potentially up to 90 million ounces annually in the next five years--and that’s just the start of it. This introduces yet another fundamental factor to silver’s industrial demand; and another tailwind to silver prices. As both a monetary and industrial metal, silver is poised to multiply in price as safe haven and industrial consumption is likely to increase against a rapidly depleting level of supply.
Automakers today are increasingly relying on silver to enable the vast technological advances incorporated into modern vehicles. This has resulted in another powerful demand center for silver, with projections of nearly 90 million ounces (Moz) of silver absorbed annually in the automotive industry by 2025. Notably, by that time, this will rival silver consumption in the photovoltaic industry, forecasted to be 98 Moz this year, and currently the largest application of global industrial silver demand.
To provide a better understanding of silver’s important function in the automotive sector, the Silver Institute, as part of its series of Market Trend Reports, today released “Silver’s Growing Role in the Automotive Industry,” produced on its behalf by Metals Focus, a leading independent precious metals consultancy. The report examines trends in automotive production, including the evolution of hybrid and battery electric vehicles. It also addresses transportation policies that favor vehicle electrification in some of the world’s most important vehicle markets. The report provides an analysis of silver automotive demand in a range of vehicles and the growing importance to silver demand of ancillary automotive services. The report concludes with an assessment of current and forecasted silver demand in automobiles through 2025.
Key takeaways from the report include:
- Silver’s widespread use in automobiles reflects its superior electrical properties, as well as its excellent oxide resistance and durability under harsh operating environments;
- Silver is used extensively in vehicle electrical control units that manage a wide range of functions in the engine and main cabin;
- These functions include, among others, infotainment systems, navigation systems, electric power steering, and vital safety features, such as airbag deployment systems, automatic braking, security and driver alertness systems;
- Average vehicle silver loadings, which are currently estimated at 15-28 grams (g) per internal combustion engine (ICE) light vehicle, have been rising over the past few decades. In hybrid vehicles, silver use is higher at around 18-34g per light vehicle, while battery electric vehicles (BEVs) are believed to consume in the range of 25-50g of silver per vehicle. The move to autonomous driving should lead to a dramatic escalation of vehicle complexity, requiring even more silver consumption. Silver automotive demand this year is projected to be 61 Moz;
- Ancillary services that require silver are also increasing, including charging stations and charging points for electric vehicles; and
- The acceptance of BEVs is gaining momentum, as an increasing number of countries adopt policies that support the BEV industry.
The report states that each stage of the transition, from ICE, to hybrid vehicles, to BEVs and eventually to autonomous driving, will be a net positive for silver demand.
To download a copy of the report, please click here.
Originally posted on The Silver Institute