We just went to the famous New York Auto show and went sniffing for catalytic converters in some of the newest models there. We discovered quite a few new cars that use – or do not use – catalytic converters in interesting ways.
The Acura NSX
This fantastic $150,000 supercar from Acura/Honda has a gas engine in the rear that drives the back wheels, and two electric motors that power the front wheels. It is a completely new way to deliver power to the wheels of a hybrid car, and what an idea. The gas engine does have a catalytic converter, but of course the electric motors do not. If this kind of technology trickles down to other cars – and it will – the result in future years could be smaller cat converters.
The Alfa Romeo 4C
Would you believe that some street versions of this pint-sized supercar have neither mufflers nor catalytic converters? That’s right, the exhaust pipes simply expel exhaust gases directly from the engine out the rear of the car. Isn’t it noisy? Yes, but a ripping exhaust note is part of the appeal. Are we going to see lots of cars in the future that have no mufflers or cat converters? Not likely. But the very fact that Alfa Romeo is producing a muffler-less street car like this is pretty amazing.
The Hyundai Sonata Hybrid, Toyota Prius Models, Chevy Volt and other Hybrids
Gas-electric hybrids have gas engines that use catalytic converters - and electric motors that do not. And that is true for both plug-in hybrids and “pure” hybrids that use their own gas engines to recharge their batteries. Because the gas engines in these cars are generally lower in displacement than the gas engines in non-hybrid cars, they have smaller catalytic converters. Even though sales of hybrids have fallen along with gas prices, sales are certain to increase someday. When that happens and those cars go out of service, the result could be a large pool of smaller catalytic converters in junkyards, muffler shops and other sources of automotive scrap.
The Tesla, Nissan Leaf, and other All-Electric Plug-In Cars
These purely electric cars do not burn any gas and have no catalytic converters. Sales of electric cars are increasing, but slowly, so there is no reason to expect that production of cat converters is about to drop quickly. But to take the long view, it is possible that sales of all-electric cars will increase dramatically over the next 20 years or more. Extending that same long view, in another 50 or 60 years, catalytic converters could become scarce – maybe even as extinct as the dinosaurs.
But in the Meantime . . .
There is still a lot of money to be made collecting and recycling catalytic converters for the platinum, palladium and rhodium they contain. If you have 500 or more that you would like to turn into cash, give us a call at 800-426-2344 to learn how.
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