Electric hybrid cars are expected to increase in popularity in the years to come as technology continues to evolve. That poses a challenge for the lubricants industry, though perhaps not as great as is assumed.
UK-based blender Morris Lubricants has seen its product range increase dramatically over the last decade due to Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) making their engines more cost effective and fuel efficient. Lower viscosity or thinner oils have been created to meet demand, moving over a short period of time from 20W-50s and 15W-40s to 10W-40s and 5W-30s – and now into the 0W category.
And the stop-start nature of electric hybrid vehicles means that thinner oils will be in even greater demand, said Morris Lubricants automotive product manager Adrian Hill.
He said: “Electric hybrid vehicles team up an internal combustion engine, petrol or diesel, with electric motors. You’re either using it as a generator set to produce power to charge the batteries, or there is a switching mode where if you’re crawling along in traffic, electric mode is more efficient, but under load or higher speeds, the diesel or petrol engine fires up.
“The petrol and diesel engine will be using similar lubricant technology as they are now. The only difference is it will be thinner oils, probably down to 20s or even 16s, because the internal combustion engine will need to ‘kick in’ instantly.
“Response times need to be quick. The thinner oil produces less resistance to the engine. The actual chemistry to protect the components and to keep it all clean will have evolved from existing technologies.”
Hybrids have been around for years but the market has grown, especially recently, with plug-in hybrids that allow drivers to charge at home.
But Adrian believes that, in the short term at least, gas powered cars will become more significant than hybrids or fully electric cars.
“Electric hybrids are seen as the way to a cleaner future, but a lot of the OEMs are starting to bring out gas powered alternatives to petrol and diesel,” said Adrian. “It will be a decade to 15 years before the electric hybrid becomes a driving force to greener motoring. Gas will come through first.
“The problem with pure electric remains the range. Some of the smaller ones can do about 80 miles, which is fine if you’re commuting within that radius. They’ve still got quite a limited application, really. The reality of hybrids today is that they spend the majority of their time using the internal combustion engine. Gas power has an extremely long range and it’s environmentally nice and clean.”
Morris Lubricants is a British company that has been manufacturing lubricants in Shrewsbury since 1869. Over 140 years of development has seen the company grow to become one of Europe’s leading oil blenders and marketers, with a reputation for quality and service.