Summary

Like any development impacting the global automobile population, EVs stand to also significantly alter the automotive lubricant market. EV technology is still in its commercial infancy, and forecasts about how much and when EVs will replace ICE vehicles vary widely. Still, most models would result in a significant reduction in future passenger car motor oil volumes. The disruptiveness of that loss will be moderated by the fact that baseline demand volumes would still be rising over that time-frame.

EVs will also create new product categories for lubricants and fluids due to their design differences from ICE vehicles. The formation of those categories is also in its early stages, as EV designs evolve and demand volumes are still low. A number of companies have launched lubricants and fluids designed specifically for EVs, though, and that cohort should continue to grow as vehicle sales grow. However, they will never rival current demand for PCMO.

The auto and lubricant industries have a clear need to develop performance specifications and standardized tests to measure the performance of these lubes and fluids. Efforts to develop them have begun and also are in early stages.

Underlying all of these conclusions is one observation that stands out: Forecasts about the impact EVs will have on the lubricants industry are based on a large number of assumptions that may or may not be borne out. As self-serving as it sounds for a publication of this type, the most important takeaway is that there are a number of trends and potential developments that deserve to be monitored. How long can governments continue to subsidize purchases of EVs? How will citizens react to regulations that require purchases of EVs? Will EVs continue on their track toward price parity with ICE-only vehicles? Will battery recharging technology continue to advance? Will sufficient charging networks be developed? Will EV manufacturers transition to batteries that require little or no cooling? How will EV design changes affect lubricant performance demands?

There is wide consensus that EVs will have large impacts on the lubricants industry, but these and many other developments will determine what those impacts are, the size of them and their timing.