Korean refiners chase after EV lubricants market led by SK Lubricants

2021.04.07 13:36:52 | 2021.04.07 13:40:04

[Graphics by Song Ji-yoon]이미지 확대

[Graphics by Song Ji-yoon]

South Korean refiners are rushing to roll out lubricants for EVs amid faster-than-expected migration to electric power mobility.

Front-runner SK Lubricants estimate EV lubricants to double from last year to power 1.3 million EV units this year in line with the estimated doubled global EV sales to 2.2 million this year.

“Given the first-quarter sales, we can expect even tripled number in sales this year,” according to an unnamed official from SK Lubricants.

SK Lubricants has made a head start in EV lubricants market and reported an average annual sales growth of 33 percent over the last two years. It started EV lubricant product development in 2010 and began to supply them to global automakers in 2013. Its lube base oil Yubase now boasts the largest 35 percent share in the global premium lube base oil market.

Lubricants have a bigger role in EVs to control antiwear performance, frictions, efficiency, electric compatibility and insulation, and electric motor and battery pack cooling.

But unlike its service to traditional cars, EV lubricants must be supplied directly to finished carmakers as the exchange cycle is much longer than those going into combustion engine vehicles, making it hard for gas stations and repair shops to stock them up for sale to consumers.

Industry observers expect it would take five to 10 years for the EV lubricants to become a mass-market commodity.

Retailers are hurrying with their rollouts.

GS Caltex has completed the development of own EV lubricants technology and is in talks with EV makers. Hyundai Oilbank also is working on research and development at its lubricants R&D center in Yongin, Gyeonggi Province.

S-Oil is targeting the hybrid car lubricants market first. It has developed four types of lubricants for EVs and hybrids early last year and is planning to start their sales within this year.

By Lee Yoon-jae and Lee Ha-yeon

[ⓒ Pulse by Maeil Business Newspaper & mk.co.kr, All rights reserved]