The appetite for manual transmissions in India far exceeds many countries across the world. While manual transmissions account for around one third of passenger vehicles produced globally, the figure for India stands at around 80%. (Source: IHS Markit and Automotive Powertrain Forecast Sep. 2020) Even with growth in alternative technologies including automated manual transmission (AMT), automatic transmission (AT) and dual clutch transmission (DCT), manual transmissions are still forecasted to account for around 70% of new passenger vehicle sales by 2030. (Source: IHS Markit and Automotive Powertrain Forecast Sep. 2020) With approximately 90% of new commercial vehicles also having manual transmissions, it is easy to understand the significance this transmission ‘of choice’ is having within the Indian automotive market. (Source: IHS Markit and Automotive Powertrain Forecast Sep. 2020)
The drive for reduced emissions and increased fuel efficiency is equally relevant in India as it is globally. The introduction of Bharat Stage VI emission norms, the Phase 2 fuel efficiency standards for commercial heavy-duty vehicles (April 2021), as well as tightening of passenger vehicle emissions limits (April 2022) signals the Indian Government’s ongoing commitment to reduce emissions and fuel consumption. Such drivers, alongside cost of ownership, vehicle uptime and driver comfort, are impacting almost every aspect of the vehicle, including the transmission and the lubricant.
These have led to original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) making changes to their manual transmission designs. Transmissions are becoming smaller in size, lighter in weight, with higher power densities and utilizing new materials. At the same time, drain interval requirements from commercial vehicle OEMs are being extended.
To enable performance gains without compromising durability, the manual transmission fluid (MTF) is working in more severe operating conditions than ever before, while needing to deliver efficiency improvements through lower viscosities.
API Category GL-4 lubricants have historically been specified in many MTF specifications, providing basic levels of wear protection, but do not provide any verification of synchroniser performance. However, today’s MTFs need to deliver significantly higher levels of performance than GL-4 oils are capable of providing, ensuring consistent, smooth shifting over the lifetime of the fluid.
MTFs must deliver robust friction performance across a range of synchroniser materials being adopted by OEMs. The MTF delivers oxidative and thermal stability in order to perform under the harsher operating conditions, over the extended drain period or fill-for-life requirements. Whilst extracting the best possible efficiency to deliver fuel economy gains, the MTF cannot compromise.
As OEMs strive for weight reductions, manual transmissions have become smaller, have an increased power density and multiple cone synchronisers with an array of materials are becoming more common. Consequently, their designs vary widely, be it in the use of a range of OEM materials, the differing loads or operating conditions. The MTF needs to be capable of handling all these differing aspects. Consequently, MTFs need to be tailored to the requirements of individual OEM hardware to achieve the best results. This applies to aspects such as load carrying, extreme pressure protection, thermal stability, materials compatibility and shear stability over the lifetime of the fluid. Whilst seeking the best possible efficiency gains, it cannot be done at the expense of durability, and hardware protection is paramount. It is probably easy to understand the advantages a dedicated, tailored, MTF can bring to meet these circumstances.
Formulating dedicated MTFs that deliver robust protection and performance throughout the extended drain interval requires the careful balance of base oil, additive package and performance polymer, all working in harmony with the transmission hardware. The requirement for increased wear and friction durability includes the use of carefully formulated friction modifiers, anti-wear and extreme pressure additives. Increased thermal stability is supported by base oil selection, typically API Group III and IV, alongside correctly formulated antioxidants and corrosion inhibitors; while the appropriate performance polymer selection supports extended shear, friction and traction control as well as its film forming and dispersancy benefits.
The continued demand for manual transmissions in India brings opportunities to oil marketers by promoting the added value dedicated MTFs can deliver.
Correctly-formulated, dedicated MTFs deliver advanced levels of performance and protection in more severe operating conditions, while enabling extended drain intervals. Through lower viscosity grades they are also supporting the drive to increased fuel efficiency.
In order to demonstrate the tangible benefits dedicated MTFs are delivering, proof of performance is critical. Oil marketers who can promote extensive real-world testing will be better placed to exploit the value that correctly-formulated dedicated MTFs can offer for India’s ‘transmission of choice.’
To learn more about dedicated MTFs for the Indian automotive market, please contact your Lubrizol representative.