Zero emissions: lubricant manufacturers face seismic impacts

Zero emissions: lubricant manufacturers face seismic impacts

There is no getting around the fact that electric vehicles have less need for lubricants, as they have fewer moving parts. The market will get smaller over time, so manufacturers need to start preparing now, writes ALASTAIR HAYFIELD.

The days of diesel as the leading vehicle fuel are numbered, and according to research from Interact Analysis, many lubricants companies need more information and analysis when it comes to preparing themselves for this eventuality.

Forewarned is forearmed. That’s why as a market intelligence specialist, Interact Analysis has produced a new report: “Global Truck, Bus and Off-highway Vehicle Electrification and Alternative Fuel: How will electrification and alternative fuels shape the commercial vehicle fuel and lubricant markets?

The report provides lubricant developers, manufacturers, and vendors with information and insight into the future of the commercial vehicles industry and how developing trends are likely to affect them.

A rapid uptake of battery electric trucks and buses is going to reduce demand for diesel fuel. This has started off slowly, but will accelerate out to 2030, particularly in certain markets. The total ratio of battery electric trucks in operation will rise to around 1% by 2025. However, by 2030, 7% of trucks on the road are forecast to be battery electric. The off-highway market is taking a much longer time to transition towards electrified and new-fuel powertrains and away from combustion, particularly when it comes to larger machinery.

So, if you are in the lubricants industry, you don’t need to switch everything over immediately, but there’s a clear trend towards electrification in particular. There is greater demand for more sustainable and environmentally sensitive products as well, which provide huge opportunities to develop greener lubricants. For instance, products are already in development for the forestry industry and for machines used in the food and drink sector, where health, safety, and the environment are more prominent.

Tailored e-lubricants may provide a potential new market for manufacturers, focusing on products that enhance the performance and longevity of moving parts, with some companies already entering this arena or developing new formulations. The importance of reducing friction and
energy consumption is even more critical for new-fuel vehicles, in order to conserve battery life or reduce time between refuelling. This means there are very real opportunities for companies that create new formulations for zero emission vehicles. 

There is time to train employees, develop new formulations, and build up supply chains. We are already seeing this movement in other related areas, such as filtration systems or fuel injection systems, so start your R&D early. With electric trucks, buses, and off-highway vehicles already on the market and hydrogen powered vehicle trials taking place, if you’re not getting involved the likelihood is that you’ll miss out.

Another way to grow sales may be to target regions taking longer to electrify vehicles, or offering fewer subsidies for zero emission technology, such as South America and Africa. These regions are likely to keep their fuel injection markets for longer. It’s a gradual transition, but at the moment one that looks inevitable, so don’t get left behind.  

Published by

Alastair Hayfield

ALASTAIR HAYFIELD has more than 15 years of experience leading research activities in scaled, high-growth industrial and technology markets. As senior research director of the commercial vehicles division at Interact Analysis, he’s responsible for cutting-edge research on electric trucks and buses, autonomous trucks and off-highway electrification.
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