Approximately one in five cars sold in China today is made by a European manufacturer, according to Richard van den Bulk, Chevron Oronite’s liaison for passenger car OEMs in Europe. According to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM), sales of passenger cars reached 21.1 million units in 2015. With China’s growing middle class and growing appetite for cars ownership, European engine oil specifications are becoming increasingly relevant in the Chinese, and Asia-Pacific, market.
Speaking on the last day of F+L Week 2016 today in Singapore, he says that European engine oil specifications are not well understood outside of Europe. “Even in Europe it’s hard to understand,” van den Bulk said. While several European luxury car manufacturers actually now consider China their largest market, none of the ACEA engine oil test methods are designed for Chinese driving conditions. And it is unlikely that this would happen anytime soon, he said. Currently, the primary concern of European OEMs is fuel quality, he added.
Adding more complexity to what is already a complex situation, the ACEA sequences are not enough for most OEMs anymore. ACEA’s engine oil specifications are used by many OEMs as a baseline, and each individual OEM may add its own specification. There are no fewer than 50 of these different specifications in Europe today, he said. The proliferation of OEM specifications exists because of the evolution of modern engines—the high loading machines, with more horsepower per liter, have increasingly intricate needs in order to stay protected.
Keith Howard, Lubrizol’s technical and field test manager for China, noted that these gasoline direct-injection and turbocharged direct-injection engines, with their concerns about robustness, is the main driver of the ACEA 2016 sequences. The ACEA C5 category is new, while the A1/B1 categories will be dropped. Particulate filters are a key item in ACEA 2016, and Howard expects that gasoline particulate filters will appear on direct-injection gasoline engines in the near future. The 2016 sequence was expected to come out in April, but Howard announced that this is more likely to occur in June or July.