Across the world, efficiency, reliability and wellness are shaping changes to legislation and consumer preferences in the automotive market. Tightening emissions legislation continues to drive more sophisticated engine hardware and aftertreatment systems.
Impact on Vehicle Hardware & Lubricant Technology
As well as engine hardware changes, including direct injection, turbocharging and engine downsizing, one implication of the drive to a cleaner and more environmentally-friendly world is the requirement for vehicles to be fitted with advanced levels of emissions control devices.
For modern commercial vehicles, diesel particulate filters (DPFs) are commonly fitted by Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) in order to meet tighter emissions limits. DPFs filter out harmful soot particulates, however their performance can be impaired by blocking due to the build-up of ash. As a result, the requirement exists for higher performing lubricants containing lower levels of sulphated ash, phosphorus and sulphur (SAPS).
SAPS are important components in the formulation of a lubricant, providing wear protection and cleanliness performance amongst many other benefits. Creating a lubricant with sufficiently low levels of these components, whilst ensuring an OEM’s precise performance requirements are met, requires a different formulating approach and bespoke additive chemistry.
For passenger vehicles, the focus on global emissions is driving the use of gasoline particulate filters (GPFs), aftertreatment devices whose role is to remove small but harmful particulate matter from gasoline direct injection (GDI) and turbocharged GDI (TGDI) vehicle exhaust gases. Again, the need for lower SAPS catalyst compatible engine lubricants are required to ensure efficiency and durability of exhaust after treatment device is maintained. Additionally, the need for maintained durability, such as the mitigation of low speed pre-ignition (LSPI) in TGDI engines, means higher performance additives are needed to function in more severe operating conditions.
Relevance to Middle East
While emissions legislation may be implemented in a specific region outside of the Middle East, it is having an impact in the region’s automotive market. Various estimates show, close to 60% of passenger cars and commercial vehicles being imported into the Middle East are from markets having the world’s most stringent emission norms. (Source: Lubrizol estimate)
The Middle East car parc is expected to increase by more than 10 million vehicles between 2019 and 2025, with a large percentage of these utilising GDI engines, turbochargers and GPFs. (Source: Lubrizol estimate) This necessitates the requirement for higher performing engine lubricants with greater performance attributes, including increased deposit protection, increased soot handing, greater protection against thermal degradation and aftertreatment compatible additive technology.
Importance of the Right Quality Engine Lubricant
In order to ensure the engine lubricants perform in more demanding conditions and are compatible with the emission control devices, OEMs and industry bodies have upgraded the service-fill specifications such API SN Plus, API SP and ILSAC GF-6 for passenger cars as well as API CK-4, VDS 4.5 and MB228.31 for commercial vehicles.
Moving to higher performance, lower viscosity lubricants requires higher quality base oils. Additionally, with more specifications being governed by high temperature high shear (HTHS) viscosity performance, together with approvals becoming increasingly ‘formulation specific,’ the need for carefully-formulated, high performing lubricants is vital.
Clearly this means the additive package, performance polymer and base oil must be carefully selected to ensure they are in complete harmony with each other. Any deviations from the licensed formulation can result in formulation being deemed non-licensed which can result in a performance deficit
Middle East is Ready
While traditionally the predominance of API Group I base oils in the Middle East had constrained an upgrade in the market, significant volumes of Group II and Group III base oils are now being produced locally. This has meant oil marketers now have access to higher quality base oils; enabling modern and higher performing lubricant formulations to be developed.
An upgrade of the automotive market in the Middle East is underway, bringing exciting opportunities for all stakeholders. Those who act the soonest may be those who benefit the most.
To learn more, please contact your Lubrizol account manager.