by Pascal Rival, Global Director e-Mobility, Quaker Houghton

The automotive industry is swiftly shifting to electric vehicles (EVs), presenting new challenges for original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to maintain competitiveness. To enhance efficiency and sustainability in producing EV components, industrial process fluids should be a key consideration for component manufacturers.

In 2022, the global EV market multiplied, nearly doubling its battery electric vehicle (BEV) production. This upward trend is expected to continue, with BEVs and hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) projected to comprise 59% of the total automotive market by 2029.

Automakers increasingly prioritise EVs, with many committing to all-electric lineups within 15 years. Those embracing this shift have experienced notable sales growth, indicating that EVs will continue to drive business expansion if production remains efficient and cost-effective.

With Change Comes Challenge for EV Component Manufacturers

OEMs and component manufacturers must transition from ICE to accommodating EVs and hybrids to comply with regulations and stay competitive. Tackling technical challenges in battery production, lightweighting, and NVH elimination is key. This involves efficient battery case forming, lightweight structural components, and improved surface quality through alternative materials and manufacturing technologies.

Making Progress with Process Fluids

To meet these challenges, component manufacturers invest in new equipment and processes to optimise production. While doing so, they should pay attention to the importance of process fluids. Transitioning to new equipment and operations is a perfect time to take a closer look at the industrial fluids needed for each application — because choosing the optimal fluid can significantly impact an operation’s productivity, efficiency, and sustainability.

Industrial process fluids are critical in various metalworking applications, like die casting, forging, forming, metal removal, heat treatment and cleaning. The right fluid technology partner can also provide advanced solutions, like coatings, surface treatments and porosity sealants, to enhance the quality and longevity of components.

When choosing process fluids for EV production, failing to look at the total cost of ownership with process fluids can lead to major missed opportunities. Finding the optimal fluid solution will not only reduce the total cost of ownership, but it can also play a transformative role in the EV manufacturing process. 

Lightweighting Vehicle Structures

Process fluids are crucial in the trend toward mega-casting, enabling streamlined manufacturing, reduced waste, and lighter vehicle structures. Switching to electrostatic, water-free die-release technology improves cycle time, efficiency, and sustainability by eliminating wastewater and the need for compressed air, reducing overall energy usage. Effective heat treatment solutions are essential for hardening malleable aluminium components in vehicle structures for EVs. 

Eliminating NVH in e-Motors and Transmissions

For e-Motors and transmissions to run quietly and smoothly, the surface quality of each component is paramount. Achieving this with machining finishing operations requires advanced fluid solutions like high-quality mineral oils, synthetic oils, or ester-based oils. Choosing the right process fluid with stronger lubricity will enhance the surface quality and reduce the need to improve production rates, energy efficiency and operating costs.

Cleanliness is essential so oils and residues don’t impact subsequent manufacturing processes. These fluids offer good oil-splitting characteristics for effective metal cleaning, improving downstream processes.

Optimising Battery Can Production

A high-performance metal-forming fluid can improve production when forming battery cell casings or housings. Battery manufacturers can easily apply these fluids by spraying or rolling them to enhance the lubricity, die life, and release of the shell from the die to reduce the rejection rate.

Cleanliness is also a critical factor in the production of EV batteries. Minimising residues and enhancing compatibility are key to success. But without the proper process fluids, this demanding process can be resource- and time-intensive. Manufacturers can optimise their cleaning processes with fast-acting cleaners that minimise process time. They can also enhance the sustainability of their cleaning operations with fluids that enable low-temperature cleaning. The result is a faster cleaning process that creates less waste and uses less energy.

Advancing the Future of Mobility with the Right Fluid Technology Partner

Mobility is changing fast, and automotive component manufacturers are tasked with meeting the rapidly growing demand for more affordable, advanced EVs. Fluid solutions are essential for improving productivity, lowering costs and efficiency.

Partnering with an expert fluid technology provider such as Quaker Houghton gives manufacturers the assistance they need to find the optimal solution for each application. However, the right partner will deliver value beyond processing fluid products — they’ll collaborate closely with manufacturers to provide technology and services in areas like operating solutions and fluid management. With an expert fluid partner, EV component manufacturers can meet tomorrow’s challenges by improving their production efficiency, sustainability, and profitability.