At night, some thieves are in search of a rather unexpected source of wealth. They do not hesitate to slip under cars in order to remove an element that “is worth its weight in gold”: the catalytic converter. But why is this coin so coveted today?
Metals more precious than gold on our cars
Flexibility and speed, these are the “qualities” of thieves. As the New York Times in an article from February 9, 2021, lately, some individuals are interested in the underside of cars with the aim of sawing and steal their catalytic converter. Remember that this part is used to reduce the harmfulness of exhaust gases by transforming toxic elements into water vapor, nitrogen and carbon dioxide.
However, catalytic converters are almost worth their weight in gold. Indeed, their metal casing is made of precious metals among which we find palladium and rhodium, the price of which has exploded in recent years. This surge is mainly linked to the tougher regulations relating to vehicle emissions. In Europe and China in particular, the demand for catalytic converters and their components is on the rise.
The price of palladium has thus quintupled in just five years to reach a peak at 2,370 euros per ounce (around 28.35 g) at the start of 2020. Currently, the price of this metal is hovering around 1,895 euros. As for rhodium, the ounce is around 17,300 euros. For comparison, the current price of gold is around 1,500 euros.
A possible positive consequence
Thus, the soaring price of these metals aroused the interest of traders, but also of thieves. On the black market, the latter get a fairly good price for stolen catalytic converters. In the United States, thefts are more and more frequent. Some cities in the country have even observed a multiplication by eight for the year 2020. The thieves sell their loot to the scrappers who then sell them themselves to metal recyclers. France is not spared since the catalytic converter is compulsory on all vehicles gasoline (since 1993) and diesel (since 1996). Thefts are therefore also on the increase in our country.
However, the rise in the price of palladium and rhodium could have another more positive consequence. It is possible that in the near future, the transition to electric vehicles accelerates. Manufacturers could indeed be more attracted by this niche since the price of the two metals mentioned becomes too expensive and therefore increases the manufacturing cost cars.