Catalytic converters, a part of a car’s exhaust system that sits beneath the vehicle, have become popular targets for thieves since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. That’s because they contain precious metals that have soared in value since the pandemic’s beginning.
Recently, searches wondering if electric cars have catalytic converters have become increasingly common on Google.
Do electric cars have catalytic converters?
No, electric cars don’t have catalytic converters.
WHAT WE FOUND
Catalytic converters clean the heavy pollutants created by a car’s combustion engine into less toxic exhaust. Electric vehicles, like Teslas, don’t have combustion engines and therefore don’t need catalytic converters.
Catalytic converters are part of a car’s exhaust system, located between the engine and the muffler, says Carfax, a database of used car reports. They’re most effective when warm, so they’re usually located close to the engine.
Various precious metals are inside catalytic converters, most notably palladium, rhodium and platinum, Carfax says.
Combustion engines release harmful gasses, which enter the catalytic converter and undergo chemical reactions with the metals inside. The final product is released as exhaust and is less harmful for the environment than the original engine fumes.
Electric cars don’t have catalytic converters because they don’t have exhaust systems, Carfax and the U.S. Department of Energy say. Since there’s no exhaust, there’s no need to remove toxic pollutants or have a catalytic converter, a Florida-based Jaguar dealer says.
In order to meet the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) emission standards, car manufacturers must put catalytic converters in their internal combustion engine vehicles. This has been the case since 1974, so almost all combustion engine cars produced since then have catalytic converters, J.D. Power, a consumer data firm with a specialty in cars, says.
When someone steals a catalytic converter, they’re looking to sell its precious metals. J.D. Power says the metals in a catalytic converter have exploded in value by two to three times their worth in the past few years. Diesel engines don’t have those precious metals in their catalytic converters, and are therefore less appealing targets for theft.
Catalytic converters in some cars, specifically SUVs and pick-up trucks raised high off of the ground, are easy to get to and can be stolen from a vehicle in as little as two minutes, J.D. Power says. That makes those vehicles prime targets for catalytic converter theft. Hybrid cars, which still use combustion engines, are also popular targets because their catalytic converters have more precious metals to meet higher emissions standards, Carfax says.