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  • Writer's pictureHIGHGRADE Lubricants

EVs and Fluids

As the global automotive industry makes strides towards a more sustainable future, electric vehicles (EVs) have emerged as the front runner in this transition. Unlike traditional internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles that rely on gasoline or diesel, EVs use electricity as their primary source of energy. Despite their significant differences, one common requirement persists between these vehicle types - the need for fluids and lubricants.


Electric vehicles, while seemingly different in their mechanical design, still consist of many moving parts that require lubrication to ensure efficient and smooth operation. These include gears, bearings, and other mechanical elements in the drivetrain. Without appropriate lubrication, the friction between these components can cause wear and tear, leading to reduced performance, decreased vehicle lifespan, and potential breakdowns.


The lubricants used in electric vehicles often need to be specifically designed for the task due to the unique conditions present within EV systems. High voltage, electromagnetic fields, and the need for effective heat dissipation require specialized formulations that not only lubricate but also protect the components and extend their lifespan. They can also help to improve energy efficiency by reducing mechanical friction and resist electrical conductivity to prevent short circuits.


Brake fluid is another vital requirement in EVs, similar to conventional vehicles. Brake fluid transmits the force of your foot pressing the brake pedal to the brake pads that slow your vehicle. Over time, brake fluid absorbs moisture, which can lead to a degraded braking performance, making regular brake fluid changes crucial for vehicle safety.


Beyond mechanical components, the critical factor in electric vehicle performance and lifespan is the battery system. Cooling fluids play a significant role in battery thermal management. Electric vehicle batteries generate heat during operation, especially during fast charging or high-load conditions. If not adequately managed, this heat can lead to a decrease in efficiency, battery degradation, and in severe cases, potential safety hazards.


Cooling fluids absorb the excess heat generated by the battery, transferring it away to maintain an optimal operating temperature. Advanced formulations of these fluids can have high thermal conductivity and electrical resistivity, allowing them to perform their task efficiently without causing short-circuiting issues. The EV coolant also needs to be compatible with the various materials in the battery system to prevent corrosion.


Electric vehicles also require specific windscreen wiper fluids designed not to interfere with the various sensors and cameras that make up the advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS) found in many modern EVs. Traditional windshield fluids might leave residues that can obstruct these systems, making the use of specially designed fluids vital for these vehicles.


Finally, electric vehicles often use fluid for power electronics cooling. Power electronics convert and control the flow of electrical power within the vehicle, and like batteries, these components generate heat during operation. Cooling fluids help manage this heat, ensuring the power electronics operate at an optimal temperature, which enhances the performance and lifespan of these components.


The need for fluids and lubricants in electric vehicles underlines a crucial point - although the source of propulsion has changed, many underlying mechanical and thermal management principles remain the same. These fluids contribute significantly to ensuring the efficient, reliable, and safe operation of electric vehicles, further reinforcing their necessity in this growing industry. The ongoing development of advanced, specialized EV fluids and lubricants that meet the unique needs of electric vehicles is therefore an integral part of the sustainable future of mobility and is an area important for AMSOIL's research and development.

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