The automotive future is headed in one direction, towards electric powered and hybrid vehicles. Car and Driver magazine listed the public targets or dates major automakers have announced for electric vehicle adoption. Some pledge a complete conversion from combustion engines by 2030.
As auto manufacturers transition to electric vehicles or hybrids that rely on batteries, the type or number of automotive parts that will require induction heat treatment will shift, but not as much as one might think. While the engine and transmission change, multiple components both under the hood and in other areas of vehicles, remain the same.
As auto makers transition to electric powered motors, they also strive to lighten the load by using lighter weight panels or completely switching metals to aluminum. The lighter the vehicle, the further it can travel on electric power, for longer distances between charges. This also alters the induction heat treatment landscape.
What Will Disappear
Parts manufacturers employ a variety of different heat treatments or processes to strengthen components, with induction heating just one of the types utilized. There are multiple parts within a gas engine that require heat treatment, such as gears, sprockets, cam shafts, crank shafts, etc. Taking away a gas engine removes a lot of components.
At Zion, we have seen a decrease in activity over the last few years for traditional gas engine parts, indicating the shift is already happening.
Bearings and shafts within an electric motor may still require induction hardening. Stress relieving or annealing, which softens the part, would be required on other components in he electric motor assembly
The fact that auto makers are substituting metals like aluminum for steel, to lighten vehicles for the electric batteries, doesn’t change the fact that aluminum parts still need heat treatment to make them stronger, or the components connected to them. What this does require is the knowledge and capacity to heat treat aluminum parts.
What Remains the Same
Autos will still require a transmission between the motor and final drive train to optimize performance. A four-wheel drive car will still require shafts between the systems.
Just as with gas combustion engines, auto makers strive to make engines lighter and more efficient. The same heat treatment processes will still apply to help these lighter parts retain as much strength and wear resistance as possible.
Other parts that will continue to require heat treatment include components within the suspension and steering system, latches and components for driver and passenger safety. Additional components in AC and pumping systems will still require heat treating.
For example, while auto makers might switch the type of metal used for a door to either a thinner sheet of steel or even aluminum, safety remains paramount. Car doors contain impact beams or tubing welded into the frame, to create a protective barrier in case of a collision. These beams or tubes are heat treated for greater strength and durability.
Induction Heat Processes
Induction processing methods and practices will not change much, whether auto makers manufacture electric powered vehicles or gas combustion engines. Parts within the steering, suspension and critical safety assemblies remain the same and require induction heat treatment, even if the parts are smaller and/or lighter than in the past.
Zion Industries, Inc. offers high volume induction heat treating, with facilities in Ohio, North Carolina and Michigan, capable of supplying the quantity and quality the automotive industry demands. Zion has offered induction heat treating for the automotive industry since 1977. All of the standards for combustion engine vehicles and parts, such as AITF 1649 and CQI-9, would apply to heat treating requirements for battery powered, electric vehicles as well. Auto parts manufacturers can rely on Zion’s expertise and commitment to quality. Contact us today.