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Automotive market continues to drive platinum demand – WPIC

12th May 2023

By: Marleny Arnoldi

Deputy Editor Online

     

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The automotive market will remain the biggest demand segment for platinum for the foreseeable future, comprising between 31% and 46% of total demand, as it has for the last five years, reports the World Platinum Investment Council (WPIC).

The industrial segment comprises between 26% and 36% of total platinum demand, while the jewellery segment makes up between 23% and 30% of platinum demand.

The balance of demand is driven by investment, in platinum exchange traded funds (ETFs) for example, and remains the segment with the most variable demand.

WPIC says platinum’s use in key technologies makes it a critical mineral for the energy transition. Platinum is central to reducing vehicle emissions, which is increasingly demanded by regulations in most countries globally.

WPIC says autocatalyst demand for platinum is predicted to grow well into the decade, despite the ongoing electrification of transport. This is because more platinum per vehicle is needed to achieve lower emissions requirements.

Platinum already dominates the diesel autocatalyst market. The metal’s use in gasoline autocatalysts is growing as it substitutes for more costly palladium.

In a fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV), platinum’s catalytic and conductive properties turn hydrogen and air into water, producing electricity to power electric cars with zero emissions.

Trucks, buses and other fleet vehicles are leading the growth in FCEVs globally.

WPIC says as the decade progresses, platinum demand from the FCEV industry will grow at an increasing pace, ultimately matching current automotive demand for platinum in the mid-2030s.

In the industrial space, platinum’s catalytic properties bode well to make nitric acid for fertiliser, and, in the petrochemical industry, platinum helps achieve a greater yield of high-octane fuel per barrel of oil.

WPIC points out industrial demand for platinum has grown at twice the pace of global gross domestic product since 2013.

Platinum is also used in the glass industry, owing to its high melting point, stability and non-corrosive properties. For example, platinum is used to produce light-emitting diode screens and glass fibre.

In the medical field, platinum is used in the treatment of cancers, as well as the manufacturing of pacemakers, owing to the metal’s biocompatibility with the human body.

Not least, platinum is used to produce hydrogen, through proton exchange membrane (PEM) technology in electrolysers. PEMs contain platinum catalysts, which propel electrolysers to produce carbon-free green hydrogen from renewable energy.

In turn, green hydrogen is used in power generation, heating, fertiliser production, steelmaking and as an aviation fuel. It can also power FCEVs.

Moreover, platinum jewellery has achieved global premier status and a strong association with love. Platinum is also renowned for setting diamonds and gemstones securely.

China is currently the world’s biggest market for platinum jewellery, although competition from other precious metals is strong. Therefore, stakeholders such as Platinum Guild International work to develop market demand through design innovation.

On the investment front, physical platinum ETFs have become firmly established in several regions, while, in North America and Australia, investors have included platinum bullion coins and bars in their retirement savings plans.

In China, an increasing amount of platinum bullion products are available for investors, such as the platinum Panda coin, which was recently reintroduced by the People’s Bank of China. Additionally, private individuals in Japan have been able to invest in platinum accumulation plans since the 1980s.

WPIC is confident that platinum will remain one of the most sought-after metals in the world, across several diverse demand segments, owing to its unique physical and catalytic properties.

Edited by Mariaan Webb
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor Online

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