Will Advanced Car Technologies Make Catalytic Converters Extinct?

We have written about this topic before on this blog. But since every day seems to bring news of new and advanced car technologies and things have changed, it’s time to cover the topic again. 

What is changing? Lots of things. Chevy’s new Volt model, just introduced, goes a lot father on its plug-in-charged batteries than the old Volt did. Nissan’s new Leaf, which uses only batteries, is supposed to travel 200 miles between charges, vs. 70 miles for the model it replaces. BMW has a new plug-in rechargeable model, intended to compete with Tesla. And of course, the news is abuzz every day with stories about self-driving cars.

How will all these new technologies and new cars affect the number of catalytic converters that are being made and installed in cars? Are cat converters about to become extinct?

Shown: scrap from the inside of Catalytic Converters, containing platinum, palladium and rhodium, which Specialty Metals accepts for recycling in minimum lots of 500 units. Credit: Adam88xx/iStock.

Shown: scrap from the inside of Catalytic Converters, containing platinum, palladium and rhodium, which Specialty Metals accepts for recycling in minimum lots of 500 units. Credit: Adam88xx/iStock.

Let’s review what’s happening.

  • Purely electric plug-in cars like Teslas and the Nissan Leaf do not use cat converters, because they produce no exhaust gases. If these purely electric cars become more prevalent, the result in the long term could be a drop in the production of catalytic converters.
  • Non-plug-in gas-electric hybrids like many Toyota Prius and Honda Civic hybrids will still use catalytic convertors, because they still burn gasoline. Remember, these cars operate on battery power alone until battery power runs low; then their gas engines fire up and keep the cars going.
  • Plug-in gas-electric hybrids like the new Chevy Volt will continue to use catalytic convertors. Just like the non-plug-in cars described just above, their gas engines fire up when electrical power starts to run low.
  • Diesel cars, like the now-disgraced TDI cars made by VW and Audi, did use catalytic converters. And so do the diesel models from Mercedes that are still being made. And recently, Jaguar announced that the base model of its new XE sedan will come with a diesel engine; a cat converter will be part of its exhaust system. So the net is, diesel cars will help keep the demand for catalytic converters strong.
  • Self-driving cars might, or night not, have any effect on the production of catalytic converters. It all depends on the systems that are used to power them. Some self-driving cars like the Tesla are powered purely by electricity and therefore use no cat converters. Other self-driving cars, like those under development by Volvo, have regular old gas engines or hybrids and utilize catalytic converters.

Don’t Expect Catalytic Converters to Vanish Overnight

Even if every car made in the world will be powered by electricity alone in 10 years (which is not going to happen), it will take a very long time before all the catalytic converter-equipped cars currently on the road go out of service. The result is that if you like to collect cat converters and send them to us for recycling, you are going to be able to keep on doing it for years and years to come. And don’t forget that non-automotive catalytic converters are used on diesel and gas engines that power generators, industrial machinery, trucks, buses and other machines. So don’t expect cat converters to disappear soon.

Do you have 500 units or more to recycle? If you do, please call Specialty Metals today at 800-416-2344 and let one of our precious metals consultants explain how we can test and recycle your catalytic converters and send you prompt payment. With some precious metals now trading for high prices, there has never been a better time.

Related Posts:

How to Eliminate the Middleman and Make More Money from Your Used Catalytic Converters 
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Cash in Today on Huge Stocks of Scrapped Catalytic Converters 
Why Do We Only Process Batches of 500 or More Catalytic Converters?