Major PCMO specification changes unlikely in near future
There are more than 1.4 billion motor vehicles on the road, an overwhelming majority of which are conventional internal combustion engines (ICE) that use lubricants, oils, and greases. Yet, with growing electrification and a global trend to tighten environmental standards, the ICE is coming under increasing scrutiny. So, what does this mean for the future of lubricant and grease specifications?
Angela Willis, president of the consultancy firm Willis Innovations Inc., told a gathering of industry representatives on 12 March that advanced ICE technologies may have plateaued, coinciding with a more aggressive move towards electrification applications from OEMs.
Speaking at F+L Week Virtual as part of an expert panel considering the topic “Is There a Need for New Lubricant & Grease Standards?,” Willis indicated we are unlikely to see noteworthy changes that would merit a major passenger car motor oil (PCMO) change moving forward. While concurring that we are unlikely to see drastically different engine technologies, Jeremy Styer, global OEM liaison manager at Vanderbilt Chemicals, foretold a greater adoption of technologies that are already available on the global stage.
However, Jeffrey Harmening, manager, EOLCS/DEF/MOM, at the American Petroleum Institute (API), a U.S. trade association heavily involved in the establishment of and certification to industry standards, told delegates the need for new categories is not necessarily going to go away. API has already received a request to evaluate the need for the next heavy-duty category and there will be an ongoing need to extend engine oil performance for improvements such as long life and sustainability, he says. Harmening emphasised that API engine oil licensees continue to grow, with more than 60% of licensees now located outside of North America.
Questions were raised over the level of support for new standards from OEMs as they transition greater resources into electrification. Willis highlighted the need to change the way new specifications are developed due to fewer available resources. “It may not be a high priority in those organisations to develop and maintain [specifications] that have a diminishing applicability globally,” says Willis. The F+L Week Virtual panellist recommended greater distribution of resources across all of the different stakeholders instead of placing the burden on one particular OEM for a given test or performance criteria.