12 Jul 2024
The voice of the independent garage sector

Charging ahead

A look at how the lubricants industry is helping to fuel innovation and accelerating the switch to EVs

While traditional combustion engine (ICE) cars still rule the road, electric vehicles (EVs) have become increasingly popular in recent years.

As interest in EVs remains high, many consumers lack awareness of the long-term benefits of owning one. As a result, consumers often opt for a traditional ICE vehicle over an EV to save both time and money.

How can we make consumers aware of the advantages of owning an EV and, in turn, support the transition? With this new industry rapidly evolving, supporting industries, such as lubricants, need to innovate so that consumers can achieve optimal vehicle performance and obtain a thorough understanding of the reality of EV ownership.

Maintaining consumer interest
Many see electric or hybrid vehicles as offering an accessible, long-term route forward when considering maintenance, cost, convenience, and environmentalism. While battery electric vehicles (BEVs) are currently the only type of EV on the market, there are two types of hybrid vehicles (HEV and PHEV) – and it is worth noting all have different maintenance needs. EVs, for example, require different maintenance as they only need to cover fluid applications encountered in electrified powertrains, such as reduction gear brake and coolant fluids. This simplified maintenance often appeals to consumers interested in EVs, especially as workshops offer reliable support and insight around maintenance for those changing over from ICE vehicles.

Consumer action in buying EVs has further spiked in recent years for several reasons; More EV models are available across price points, expert resources and maintenance are increasingly trustworthy, and consumer products are better and more accessible too. Additionally, misunderstandings around the negative environmental impact of EV production, waste, and batteries are being confronted and improved globally, helping to drive change forward in the areas that need it most.

Increasing awareness
It is worth noting that the barriers to owning hybrid cars and EVs are not universally shared, as cost and infrastructure varies widely by region. While 39% of consumers are wary of the initial cost of EVs, nearly 60% are not aware that they can save money using an EV long term. Globally, EV infrastructure is lagging, but improving, with a 50% increase from the previous year. Concerns around battery pollution and range have been greatly reduced as EV education becomes more accessible, and automotive practices become more circular.

There are ways for consumers to adjust their lifestyle to work seamlessly with EVs, too. This can include checking the availability of charging stations in their local area and making use of them when out on the road. In fact, UK access to public charging points is only getting better, with 45,737 public charging points installed in the last 12 months, representing a 40% increase in the total number of charging devices since July 2022. Consumers should also research financial incentives available for EV purchases and charging station installations, which can help alleviate the costs of owning an EV. For example, the UK Government is currently offering the Plug-In grant as a financial incentive, which offers a discount of up to 35% off the purchase price of an EV, up to a maximum of £2,500.

The current landscape of EV innovation
Innovation is occurring within the supply chain and automotive-adjacent industries to ensure consumers have the best EV products both today and in 10 years. Supply chains are becoming more streamlined and sustainable, with reduced plastic packaging marking a small but significant step forward in the race to improve circular practices.
Lubricant technology is under constant development as the industry looks to better anticipate the needs of new electric and hybrid models, which are only increasing in volume and variety. Technological innovation and partnerships are helping to co-engineer and accelerate efficient innovation, with EV fluids playing a pivotal role in keeping pace with the latest generation of EVs, alongside hybrid-specific engine oils. In tandem, organisations in adjacent industries are working to drive progress in their sectors, with Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) partnerships especially playing a vital role in innovation and product performance, whilst meeting and striving to exceed increasingly stringent environmental requirements.

Putting sustainable practices into action
Ultimately, it will take many years for the world to truly shift over to genuine EV dominance. Despite EVs being projected to make up globally by 2050, the majority of vehicles on the road will still run on petrol in some capacity. Regardless of this delay, sustainable practices need to start now, and consumers are asking for advice.
So, how can consumers drive greener and embark on their own sustainable automotive journey? When it comes to sustainable practices, start with what you have. ICE car owners can use sustainable products for annual maintenance – whether that’s products that come in recyclable and reused packaging or are advanced fluid technology solutions like PETRONAS Syntium, which reduces fuel consumption by 3%. We still need to provide solutions for all types of vehicles on the road now and in the future.

The road ahead
The future for EVs and hybrid vehicles looks incredibly promising. With ongoing Government regulations and investments in EV infrastructure and initiatives, coupled with continuous innovation in the automotive industry, the growth of EVs seems inevitable.

While the next major breakthroughs are expected in areas like digitisation, battery management, and autonomous vehicles, it remains crucial to prioritise the customer experience as electric and hybrid vehicles evolve. By keeping the customer at the forefront, we can ensure that we are collectively heading towards an energy efficient future.