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Field Trials Results: Hybrid Engines Have Unique Conditions

Field Trials Results: Hybrid Engines Have Unique Conditions

Apr 9, 2024

Topics: Passenger Cars

When it comes to vehicle production in Latin America, estimates are pointing to new realities in the next decade. S&P Global Mobility predicts that by 2035 mild- and full-hybrid vehicles will represent the majority of vehicles produced in Argentina, Brazil, Columbia, and Ecuador. The uptick in hybrid production in Latin America follows the larger global trend away from ICE-only vehicles.

While other regions are embracing higher-quality lubricants and the fuel efficiency and longer engine life they enable, Latin America has been slow to adapt. This trend could pose challenges for consumers when the only option for their hybrid and modern ICE vehicles involves outdated and underperforming engine oils.

Common Engine Oils Tied to Old Specification

For a clear picture why hybrid and modern ICE vehicle owners might face lower performance and overall engine problems, look no further than the dominant engine oil specification in use in Latin America. Currently, many engine oils on the market meet the API SM, API SL, or even older specifications. This means that, as hybrids gain traction in the Latin American market, consumers may find that few engine oils on the market meet their needs. Most engine oils will not be able to protect their investment and give them the performance they deserve.

Hybrid Engines Have Unique Conditions

While modern ICE-only vehicles have their own unique set of engine oil requirements, the needs of hybrid engines are partially tied to lower overall operating temperatures. A recent hybrid engine field trial conducted by Lubrizol showed that hybrid engines did not burn fuel at the same rate as ICE-only vehicles, leading to higher fuel content in the hybrid engine oil. The trial also showed a tendency for water ingress and viscosity instability. Taken together, these issues can impact fuel efficiency and engine life through sludge and deposit formation, along with overall oil degradation. Clearly hybrid engines have needs apart from those of ICE-only engines.

Learn more about hybrid engine oils insights and solutions on our e-Mobility website.

Advance Vehicles Need Advanced Engine Oils

The higher temperatures of ICE-only engines are not typical of hybrid engines, which presents a challenge for the emulsion stability of a hybrid engine oil. Lower operating temperatures means water has less opportunity to evaporate. More water in the engine oil, especially at lower temperatures, can cause sludge, which in turn is a drain on engine performance. Lubrizol has determined that a capable hybrid engine oil must have the emulsion performance to prevent sludge.

The Lubrizol field trial also revealed challenges with fuel dilution and severe operating cycles. In addition to emulsion performance, hybrid engine oils must have capable dispersants and detergents to fight the effects of fuel dilution and also must have robust antiwear chemistry to protect against the effects of severe operating conditions.

To prepare for the future of hybrid vehicles in Latin America, improvement in lubricant formulations and the widespread use of capable hybrid engine oils are imperative. As the region witnesses a surge in hybrid vehicle production, educating the region about the importance of upgrading their engine oils is a crucial task in ensuring the smooth transition to the new reality for Latin America in the coming years.


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