No doubt, EV’s will eliminate some major rubber parts for power-trains, but could prove a ‘gold mine’ for progressive auto rubber parts makers in the long-run, says Mathew George, General Manager (Petrochemicals), Indian Oil Corporation, Mumbai.
In his presentation made at the recently concluded India Rubber Meet (2018) in Kochi, Kerala, he said electric vehicles may eliminate some major rubber parts for engines. Absence of many hydraulic systems reduces the need for many seals and hoses. Lack of an exhaust system eliminates the need for rubber muffler hangers. Use of power transmission belts are also reduced in EVs.
However, there may be an increase in use of rubber and rubber blends in EVs in the areas of sound-deadening equipment, battery mountings and shock/vibration control. Battery mounts and dampeners made out of rubber will see an increase.
EVs use elastomer mounts for various electric motors used to propel the car as well as power the brakes, steering and air conditioning. Rubber products will also be extensively used in battery cooling systems which are the core of any electric vehicle. Cooling systems employ unique polyurethane bellows and hoses. Auto makers will look to plastic structural materials to reduce the vehicle’s overall weight.
The plastic industry will see a huge positive impact as the quantity of plastics used in the average electric vehicle is expected to more than double from the current average levels of about 100 kg/vehicle. Plastics will find use in battery/cell casings as also weight reduction usage to compensate for increase in vehicle weight due to battery weight.
The increased availability of refinery feedstocks also augurs well for the synthetic rubber industry , while throwing up new paradigms of competition for the natural rubber industry.
Mathew George also feels that EVs will bring about profound change in the way tyres are designed, manufactured and used. Producing the perfect tyre for the new fleet of electric cars is a truly complex – and fascinating – challenge that will demand rigorous science, innovative thinking and many thousands of miles on the test track.
The remarkable torque of electric cars puts immense demands on tyres because they have to be sturdy yet – and this is the difficult part – very grippy, although not so grippy that they use up vital battery power. The silent engine makes tyre rumble more obvious, so reducing noise is also important.
Then there is weight to consider. EVs have heavy batteries and
an unusual vertical load distribution. This produces stress during acceleration and cornering, which means the tyre structure needs to be extra resilient.
Due to battery storage, spare tyre may go away to be replaced by self-sealing tyres and in-built tyre inflators, he adds.