The rapid emergence of electric vehicles in China highlights the need for standards for lubricants and other chemicals for EV motors, members of a lubricant trade association said during a meeting last week.
The Shanghai Lubricant Trade Association organized the initial meeting on Aug. 28 of its new Auto Chemical Products Committee. SLTA President Wu Yuedi said the committee’s priority is to set standards for major products used in fuels, lubes and car detailing and cleaning products.
“The market is filled with auto care chemicals claiming how safe and efficient they are,” Wu said. “However, as there is no standard for any of the products, how can the claims be trusted?” The new committee intends to set local standards for Shanghai that are practical for manufacturers while strict enough to ensure quality.
“If the Shanghai standards are acknowledged by other regional committees, it will be easy to promote the standards among manufacturers across China and even become national standards,” he said.
His speech led to wider discussions about standards among representatives from committee members, including Fuchs, Valvoline and Lubrizol. A representative from Fuchs asked about chemicals used in electric vehicles, a sector that China is determined to lead in the global market.
“Auto manufacturers are racing to launch new EV models in China, but we don’t see any standard for chemicals used to protect EVs, such as transmission oils,” she said.
Chinese consumers bought 1.1 million EVs in 2019, about 48% of the total sold globally, according to China’s association of automobile manufacturers.
Lubes play different roles in vehicles powered solely by batteries and hybrids than they do in those powered only by internal combustion engines. For example, the large amounts of heat generated by EV batteries create new performance demands for thermal management.
Fuchs itself recently launched three EV products in China under the brand name BluEV: a transmission oil, a heat transfer fluid and a grease.
Jin Ou, a committee director who is a technology director at Valvoline, said alternative vehicles like EVs are relatively new to the market, which means there is much still to learn about them. For example, researchers are trying to better understand the how EV electrical currents influence lubricants and their performance.
She added that more feedback from consumers on EV oil products is also needed to conduct better research. “By collecting feedback, we can surely speed up the process to push China to set standards,” Jin said.
The newly implemented Chinese 6 emission standards caused similar issues. For example, China has no standard for gas and diesel particulate filters.
“New aftertreatment systems will be designed for the [China] 6 standards,” Jin said. “It takes time to develop standards for new products, but it is on the committee’s agenda.”
Wu added that the new committee also hopes to communicate with its counterparts in Western countries.
“Some of the products already have standards in the West,” he said. “We probably won’t copy their standards, but we’d like to get Western experts’ advice and work with Chinese local companies to make standards catering to the Chinese market.”
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