As steel suppliers, UK based and highly experienced, we like to keep a finger on our industry’s pulse. As highly experienced metal stockists we like to monitor demand, supply, pricing and everything else about every type of metal we sell. We’ve just spent a few hours surfing around to find the latest stories, and here they are. Happy April to all our customers, new and old. If you want metal supply, we won’t make a fool out of you.
Electric car makers reject aluminium
The aluminium sector has suffered a mighty shock. The designers of Tesla’s latest mass market electric car have rejected aluminium in favour of steel, which is heavier but cheaper. The news reveals how steel is fighting back against aluminium, which had – as it turns out – foolishly believed it would be the metal of choice for all electric vehicles simply because it’s so light. It’s an old, old battle, but new electric car technologies mean it’s being waged all over again.
Aluminium was widely used to mitigate the extreme weight of electric car batteries in the past. It meant their range could be extended dramatically, something that’s vital to consumers. But there’s tension between bigger markets and cheaper vehicles, and new battery tech means weight isn’t quite as crucial as it once was.
Tesla’s Model 3 costs roughly half of the seventy grand luxury Model S, a much better mass market price point. Luckily for steel, it is currently winning back lost market share thanks to petrol cars like the Audi A8, the latest version of which has shifted from mostly aluminium to a clever blend of steel, aluminium, magnesium and carbon fibre. All this change matters because electric and hybrid cars are widely expected to make up just under a third of all vehicles worldwide by the year 2030, up from just 4% in 2017.
Tesla says it has designed its latest offering with a “mix of materials to be lightweight and safe while also increasing cost-effectiveness for this mass-market vehicle”. And they’re not alone. Nissan has also defected to steel, with their best-selling Leaf model, as has VW’s e-Golf.
The world’s copper glut gets even bigger… and Trump has a hand in it
Copper has been piling up at record rates thanks to a growing surplus of the metal. Now it’s cluttering up warehouses across Asia, Europe and the USA. The London Metal Exchange warehouse inventories alone have seen a four-year high recently, and while experts caution against looking at the numbers in isolation, fast-growing inventories on Comex and the Shanghai Futures Exchange reveal copper is indeed enduring a tricky time.
At the same time Trump’s pro-business agenda, which initially drove a rally in demand for the metal, is starting to cause damage thanks to its protectionist trade policies. Traders originally bought into his promises to slash corporate tax and boost investment in the US’ struggling infrastructure, but now it has dropped to just $6 602 a metric ton on the London Metal Exchange, almost 10% down from its three-year peak in December 2017. The metal is also trading well below its 200 day moving average for the first time since Trump took power.
China says Trump’s planned tariffs could easily backfire and eventually damage sales by US giants like Apple, Boeing and Intel. The LME’s copper stockpile hints at steep discounts and a more than adequate supply. All around the world, people are watching to see whether Trump’s trade policies generate a vicious circle, with weaker growth damaging demand as inflation, increasing interest rates and import tariffs boost the cost to consumers. Nasty.
We’ll see you next month for more news and views from the marvellous world of metals supply. In the meantime walk this way for metals of every kind, all at great prices, with experts always on hand to help you make the best decision.
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