With expectations of lower demand for combustion cars, lubricant manufacturers fear disappearing, just like Kodak in front of digital cameras
The lubricant sector, which moves 146 billion dollars, runs the risk of suffering the same fate as Kodak, thanks to the expansion of electric vehicles.
Assemblers such as Volkswagen and Nissan Motor make the transition to battery powered models that use less grease than combustion vehicles. With demand expected to fall from 2025, lubricant manufacturers fear disappearing, as did Eastman Kodak, which failed to capture the potential of the digital camera in the 1970s.
For decades, lubricant manufacturers have been concerned with improving fuel efficiency in combustion engines and increasing mileage between oil changes. Electric vehicles present a new set of challenges for piston cars, which typically use 40 different oils. These new vehicles need a grease that can cool and lubricate the engine, as well as protect on-board electronics and be compatible with non-metallic materials such as plastics.
“I’m very conscious that the world is changing,” said Dave Hall, a 30-year veteran of the industry who is in charge of redesigning BP’s Castrol line of lubricants for the electric vehicle market. “I’d like to think we’re trying to solve and stop a Kodak moment and not just lock it in a closet, as maybe they did”.