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HomeTips & GuidesAutomotive Wire Harness Materials Cost: Factors Affecting Cost and Cost Reduction Strategies

Automotive Wire Harness Materials Cost: Factors Affecting Cost and Cost Reduction Strategies

When calculating the automotive wire harness materials cost, you have to analyze the parts that make up the bundle. 

These harnesses usually have several components, all built using different materials. 

So, in this article, we will look at the cost of these parts, factors affecting their material costs, and strategies to reduce car wire harness prices.

 Let’s get right into it!

Automotive Wire Harness Parts and Materials Used in Them

Regardless of the type of wire harness, each has some or all of these components.


Electrical wires are the primary components in wire harnesses because they transmit electrical signals across the system. 

The primary material used to make these components is copper, but they also have plastic or polymer insulations.

Wires in an automotive cable harness

Wires in an automotive cable harness

These copper wires can have different gauges depending on the harness or the component they power. 

Each wire must meet and slightly exceed the required bandwidth or voltage from the connected component, so their thickness will vary.


Some wire harness assemblies don’t run continuously from source to destination. 

They need connector joints to distribute the electrical signal or link to outlet receptacles and switches with pigtails.

Connectors come in different types and sizes to enable you to splice various wires in the cable harnesses. 

The inner part of these components is metallic, but their shells can be plastic or ceramic.

Connectors in an automotive wire harness

Connectors in an automotive wire harness

Strain Relief

Strain relief is typical on connectors, and it keeps the wire terminal from pulling out when you apply force on the wires. 

If the wire terminals manage to get out or loosen, they will form a poor electrical connection that can cause arcing and affect the electrical flow.


Safety locks are part of connectors because they help secure the terminal from disengaging when pulled. 

Some locks also click to ensure or indicate complete terminal insertion into the connector.


Terminals are the metal parts soldered or crimped to wire ends. They help create a neat wire end for easy insertion into a connector or the end device. 

These components are purely metallic and primarily consist of tin-plated copper. Tin protects the copper from oxidizing.


Fuses are like safety nets because they safeguard the wires and other components from the damaging effects of overloading, power surges, shorts, etc.

Blade fuses

Blade fuses

Traditional fuse designs contain a thin wire strand inside a glass or ceramic tube. 

But modern fuses feature thermoplastic shells and a fusible link made of zinc or copper alloy.


Relays are electromagnetic switches that control high-amperage circuits using low-current circuits. 

They contain a copper solenoid with a soft iron core, an armature, and a plastic housing.


Wires already come with insulations from end to end. But wire harness assemblies must have sleeves or tubes to provide the first layer of protection from heat, the elements, abrasion, and other external elements.

However, from the inside, these jackets act as secondary insulation layers to protect the surrounding parts from electrical shock.

An engine harness with an outer jacket

An engine harness with an outer jacket

Wire harness assembly sleeves and corrugated tubes are usually plastic materials like polyolefin and nylon.


Grommets are rubber insulators that keep connectors and conductors moisture-free while enabling them to bend. They are typical in car-door wire harnesses.

A car-door wire harness grommet

A car-door wire harness grommet


Automotive wiring harness clamps and ties keep the wires in the bundle together as they move in a specific direction. 

They can also secure these bundles to the car’s frame to fix them and reduce movements.

Factors Affecting the Cost of Automotive Wire Harness Materials

The primary factors that affect the cost of a wiring harness are the production and raw material costs. 

Raw material costs have the broadest variations, more so due to the additional costs associated with shortages or high demand. 

For instance, the fluctuating copper costs make the commodity price challenging to predict.

Therefore, the primary factors affecting the wire harness price can be out of the manufacturer’s control. 

However, it becomes more expensive if the harness requires more of the costly material. 

For instance, thick, low-gauge wires need more copper, which makes them more expensive.

Thick and thin wires in automotive wiring

Thick and thin wires in automotive wiring

When designing the harness, the engineer can determine the bill of materials, which can help calculate the wire harness cost based on the current material market prices.

So, in a wire harness manufacturing plant, the schematics from the product design department help the sales department create the wire harness model ratio. 

The purchasing department uses this data and the model annual production forecast to determine the unit price of the component to purchase.

The raw materials used in manufacturing play a significant role in the pricing and profitability of the end product.

 High material costs get transferred to the end user ( the person buying the car).

These high input prices negatively impact demand, which means a slowdown in the purchase of new vehicles.

The primary material that is increasing the cost of wire harnesses is copper. 

And since there is no better alternative price-wise and performance-wise, wire harnesses might keep becoming more expensive.

Copper prices continue to increase drastically with the adoption of green and renewable technologies. 

The metal is crucial for energy transmission and is extensive in wind and solar farms.

Electric cars also extensively use the material because they carry more than double the copper required in traditional internal combustion vehicles.

Thick copper wires in an electric vehicle

Thick copper wires in an electric vehicle

Even traditional gas and diesel vehicles are increasingly housing more technologies and sensors, which require additional wires.

Therefore, the cost of copper is not likely to drop. And the market valuation trends in this industry indicate the same.

The automotive wire harness market was valued at $51.79 billion in 2022 and has risen to $55.26 in 2023. Projections indicate the industry’s valuation will be $119.31 billion in 2033, more than double in 10 years.

This industry’s growth indicates the high demand for copper, which will only make the commodity’s prices skyrocket.

Strategies To Minimize Automotive Wire Harness Material Costs

Since all indications show the prices of wire harnesses are likely to go up, you can use these strategies to keep the price levels manageable and friendly to car buyers.

  • Negotiate the price: If you buy wire harnesses in bulk, you have the power to bargain and get better deals. Long-lasting partnerships are also grounds for requesting discounts. Alternatively, you can ask for bids to compare prices between different wire harness manufacturers.
  • Optimize the design: Be careful when optimizing the harness to cut costs because the components can wear out quickly or not meet the required standards. Try using aluminum instead of copper, making the wires thinner, and switching to cheaper parts.
  • Cut production costs: If you are a wire harness manufacturer, you can switch production sites to locations with cheap labor, reduce your workforce, automate manufacturing processes, or do lean production.

Wire Harness Cost Analysis

The copper wires take the bulk of the price (around 30%). Other parts take another 30%, while the manufacturing cost consumes a third 30%. 

These manufacturing costs include labor, assembly, inspection, cutting, crimping, etc. 

The last 10% is for the management sales fee, covering design and other similar technical costs.

A bunch of wiring harnesses ready for installation

A bunch of wiring harnesses ready for installation

When reducing the cost of the wires, consider that the copper core is 80% of the price of the cable, while the polymer insulations represent only 20%. 

Therefore, switching to aluminum or using thinner copper cores can reduce the cost of the harness significantly.


As vehicles advance, they require lengthier wire harnesses, meaning manufacturers will need more of the components listed earlier to produce the final product. 

So their cost is a significant factor to consider. And as you can see above, their pricing is on an upward trajectory due to the increasing copper prices. 

Therefore, we recommend using the strategies above to cut these costs and have an edge over the competition. 

Also, check out this analysis on the cost of car rewiring to know how much these wire bundles cost. That’s it for now. Have a good one!

Hi I am Christa, sales manager of Cloom.

I have extensive expertise and experience in wiring harnesses and I believe I can help you.

And we have a very professional technical team who can clearly understand the customer’s needs and give professional suggestions and solutions after receiving the drawings.

If you also have wiring harness needs, please send me the drawing so that we can give you our quote and start our business.

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