HOUSTON—The evolution toward electric vehicles means the amount and type of rubber used in the automotive sector will continue to change.
More than a generation has passed since Toyota first mass produced the Prius hybrid and the next generation expects to see a huge tilt toward completely electric vehicles.
But widespread electrification means the roles rubber now plays will evolve, Bill Hyde, executive director of olefins and elastomers for IHS Markit, said during the company's recent World Petrochemical Conference.
"If you are a pure electric (vehicle), you need a lot less rubber parts. You don't need nearly as many hoses and gaskets, those sorts of things," he said when asked about the future role of rubber in automotive applications during the virtual conference. "That, on the increment, says less synthetic rubber demand.
"But the big deal, obviously, is in the tire—and the impact on the tire is going to be significant. One of the things they will be looking to in order to extend the range of the batteries—they will be looking at perhaps even harder than we have been from just a pure fuel-efficiency standpoint—is lowering rolling resistance," Hyde said.