According to my observations, the most active phase of technological changes in the industry began about 5 years ago. Just when there were more widespread vehicles equipped with electric and hybrid drives. Naturally, it had the most direct impact on the after-sales service industry, the production and sale of automotive components.
However, it is necessary to clearly understand that in different countries of the world, this trend has inhomogeneous degree of degree, since the market of each country is developing in its own way. For example, in China, the main focus is on electric vehicles. This is generally the largest automotive market in the world with almost 24 million new cars sold in 2018 because attention to it from all industry players, of course, reinforced. Accordingly, the above-mentioned trends are global importance, and therefore can be considered as a dominant trend.
In Japan, vehicles with a hybrid power plant prevail. Especially in the past few years, their number has increased significantly.
Our company sells its products in more than 80 countries around the world and therefore we visually see all these differences accurately assessing local specifics. Somewhere very well represented the most advanced automotive technologies, somewhere still in the priority of the machines of previous generations operating on diesel fuel and gasoline. It happens because the government of each country forms its own policy regarding environmental protection and reducing harmful emissions. Many factors are taken into account: economic feasibility, industrial development, welfare of the population, etc., which actually determine the vector of motion.
However, it is unequivocal to recognize that at present the main part of professional discussions is related to electrical engines — automotivers operating on electrical energy, but I do not think that in the near future they will gain massiness in the full sense of the word. I do not see the rapid, convincing growth of their number. And this is quite natural in a situation where fundamental tasks have not yet been resolved: ensuring a sufficient amount of electricity, effective utilization of batteries, the development of a maintenance network, etc.
So the society is now, in my opinion, is on the threshold, figuratively speaking, «the moment of truth» — the next decade either proves the highness of this concept, or not. Whether this tendency will develop and continue or the automotive industry will still have to go in any other way, in search of other-more efficient technologies.
To what extent will your company touched on modern automotive trends?
Environmental trends caused by the protection of the environment and human health have affected not only the engine, but also many adjacent segments. For example, brake system. First of all, of course, this refers to the characteristics of the friction material, which should be as high as possible from an ecological point of view.
It is such materials that we use now in the manufacture of our own products, completely abandoning Asbestos departing in human lungs and for many years not from the body. In addition, we successfully carried out work on reducing the amount of copper in the friction material — in accordance with current legislative requirements from 2021 in brake pads sold in the North American market, the share of copper should not exceed 5%, from 2025 — 0, 5%.
However, our company has almost completely moved away from the use of copper as part of its products.
How much, in your opinion, are objective of such requirements for reducing the share of copper in the composition of the friction mixture?
We do not reliably know how negatively the copper is influenced on the human body and the environment, nevertheless we do not dispute the eligibility and feasibility of such restrictions. MK Kashiyama strictly adheres to current legislative requirements in each of the countries where sells its products. For us, this is the main rule of doing its business.
Of course, in the context of the production of brake pads, copper is a very important component of friction material, having a direct impact on braking efficiency. Not so easy to remove it from the recipe mixture without losing the functional characteristics of the brake system. However, our specialists were able to solve this task.
Over the past 20 years, in view of the consistent introduction of various restrictions on the use of a number of substances and elements in the composition of the clutch, our company consistently performed every legislative ban, and each time we managed to find a proper replacement for prohibitive components. So in this matter we have tremendous experience.
Therefore, today the mixing of various types of raw materials is based on information accumulated over the years of painstaking work, conjugate with clear control of product quality by the increase in osticity. Both environmental and operational. In this case, the raw materials used in the production of friction material corresponds to the environmental standards of ELV and REACH regulations with less harmful effects on the environment.
That is, each consumer can be absolutely confident that the production of MK Kashiyama is paid to the use of such friction material, which provides stable operation, durability, and also suppresses noise and vibration, has high strength and resistance to corrosion and high temperatures.
By the way, I want to especially notice here, there were significant investments in the anti-slip plates — now almost our products presented in Russia are already equipped with them. Partners asked about vacuum package — we did it too.
And, speaking of production and development, it is necessary to take into account such an important aspect as the difference in the requirements for frictional material depending on the type of car and its operation (small cars, crossovers, light commercial vehicles, heavy trucks, etc.). As well as differences in climatic conditions and road surfaces in Western Europe, Russia, North America, Asia, etc. All these aspects determine the need to create friction materials that meet the specific needs of each specific use environment.
To meet this need, our company produces more than 40 types of friction materials, including materials used in motor sports. Using the EV method based on scientific results and based on the data collected by our company for more than 50 years, we offer a highly reliable and high-class product that guarantees the safe operation of motor vehicles of various brands and models.
Is it difficult to find a replacement of copper?
History with copper, I must say, it arose yesterday. At first there was a long discussion, a variety of arguments were brought, options were considered. As any theory in this story had opponents, and supporters, arguedly defending their beliefs.
But we have begun research immediately. Several years of engineering companies MK Kashiyam had a search and selection of materials (and materials compositions) that could replace copper without losing braking efficiency. Developments were conducted not only on the basis of our laboretry, but also in collaboration with American clients, for which all this was the most relevant.
As a result, at the moment we are fully prepared for the introduction of any restrictions on copper, wherever they declared. Even if, after the American lawmakers, the Russian government will prohibit the use of brake pads containing copper — we will organize the supply of suitable products that hour.
Do you think the situation with copper can get a continuation in European markets and including in Russian?
It is hard to say. The initiative to limit the use of copper in the composition of friction mixtures proceeded from the United States and was supported in Japan. But, for example, in Germany is considered in several other perspectives. The potential harm of the element is not due to itself, and in the context of the modification of its properties under the influence of high temperatures arising due to friction during braking. In addition, the topic of recovery consumption — recycling consumption is very relevant in Europe — therefore, materials and substances are trying here, which can be subsequently susceptible to recycling. That is absolutely not peculiar to the American tradition implies, apparently, the historical prerequisites for the total use of material products to the complete loss of functionality followed by recycling.
This is a significant difference in consumer approaches and government governments. In turn, affects the legislation and the possible ban on the use of certain elements in the recipes of friction mixtures.
And what instead of copper?
When creating friction mixtures, our company gradually displays accents, replacing metal ceramics — several types of friction mixtures with different ceramics content and, accordingly, different functional characteristics are created. There are mixtures providing softer or tougher braking, a separate recipe for large cars, separate for small lands, etc.
The advantages of such products can now be assessed by Russian consumers, since recently and the Russian market are supplied with friction material, including ceramics. This is a more modern and expensive product, but we managed by refusing to cooperate with trading houses and transition to the distribution model of distribution, reduce costs and at the expense of this to maintain the previous cost. Therefore, now in Russia is available completely different — a better product at the same price.