Company to initially import electric vehicle fluids, but will manufacture locally later.

Attracted by India's electric vehicles play, global energy giant Shell Inc.'s subsidiary Shell Lubricants will launch fluids for EV motors suitable for the climatic and geographic conditions.

In an interview, Shell Lubricants global executive vice-president Machteld De Haan, and India head, Debanjali Sengupta, said the company will initially import electric vehicle fluids, but manufacture the product locally later.

The heat transfer fluids, or coolant, is used in thermal management to keep the batteries cool. The development is significant as India has reported a number of electric vehicle fire incidents, mostly due to overheating of faulty battery packs.

“Thermal management is an important piece for electric vehicles. If you can keep the battery cool, you can prevent it from overheating," said De Haan.

The electric vehicle-specific product is available globally, and Shell is currently in talks with original equipment manufacturers in India, said Sengupta.

“When they are ready, we can bring it in. We have started pilots and trials, so things are ongoing," Sengupta said.

Talking of Shell's diversification plans, De Haan said the company is looking to become a global lubricant and fluid solutions company, shifting beyond its original focus only on lubricants.

“We will try to diversify from friction management to thermal management. We have got some really good experience in immersion cooling; this is where we can really help data centres to reduce the energy consumption and carbon footprint, an area where we are doing some pilots today in the market here" De Haan said.

Furthermore, with the electrification of the mobility space, Shell Lubricants is also looking at electric vehicle fluids, transmission fluids and e-greases.

In 2019, it had launched its first electric vehicle fluid, and continues to develop the product in partnership with original equipment manufacturers globally, she said.

India's push for electric vehicles is slowly gaining traction with 1.33 million registrations. With this diversification, Shell plans to double its business in India in the next five years, targeting to feature in the top five lube manufacturers from its current ranking among the top 10.

“Indian operations registered a 12% growth last year over 2019, and things are looking bright even in 2022, which will be better than the 2021 performance. India is a really important market for us. We want to double the business in India. We're looking to really increase our reach from the 50,000 points that we have today to 100,000 points. We want to bank on some of the new products that we're introducing over the last couple of months," De Haans said.

In July, the company launched Shell Engine Oil custom-made and designed for three-wheelers, with active cleansing technology that keeps engines clean and protected at high temperature. The engine oil can be used for compressed natural gas (CNG), liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), petrol and diesel engines.

Developed specifically for India, the company is now exporting it to the neighbouring markets with high three-wheeler penetration.

“India took the lead in developing something that is very market-specific, but then we'll see how we can apply it somewhere else in the world," she said.

Shell Lubricant India had increased its production capacity at its lubricant oil-blending plant at Taloja in Maharashtra recently, and it now plans further expansions for a few more India- as well as South Asia-specific products.