CUYAHOGA FALLS, Ohio—A shift away from the internal combustion engine actually can mean new opportunities for rubber parts suppliers to the automotive industry, one expert believes.
Electric motors need fewer rubber components than traditional engines. That's a given.
But Joe McCabe, CEO of AutoForecast Solutions L.L.C., also contends rubber parts makers have a chance to grab new business as change takes place. This, however, will not happen without some creativity.
AFS, based in Chester Springs, Pa., takes what McCabe calls a conservative view of the transition from gas- and diesel-power to electricity on the nation's roads. His company forecasts that just under 10 percent of all vehicles will be electric by 2028, far below other predictions of 25 percent or even higher, he said.
Regardless of the rate of change, that change is coming.
"When you change at the power train—when you change out certain things that require more gaskets more rubber content—there's obviously is a risk," McCabe said June 1 during the Rubber In Automotive Conference organized by Rubber & Plastics News.
But there also is an opportunity, he said during an online presentation.
"New EV players are going to look at creative ways to make their new vehicles," McCabe said. "What's happening is that, when I look at things like rubber or even plastic, and the idea is it can be configured in different shapes and things of that nature."
New companies in the EV market are sitting on money and looking at ways to deploy that cash, he said.
"They've got AutoCad and a dream, and they are just praying that the right supplier is going to help make this idea that was on paper a reality," McCabe said. "So if you can get creative into new rubberized parts, new ways of manufacturing, offsetting potentially other products, more plastic products into rubberized parts and things like that—really push the needle, saying let's think of a new way of our industry going forward—...there's opportunity out there.