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Automotive Product Finder Magazine | Lube makers helping auto industry make a smooth transition to BS VI
Lube makers helping auto industry make a smooth transition to BS VI
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BS VI emission norm, which will come into effect from April 2020, is forcing automakers to make modifications in engine and other auto parts. Lubricant firms are working closely with their customers (OEMs) and suppliers to help the auto industry to make a smooth transition to the new emission standards and electric vehicles, says Rakesh Rao.
Air quality in cities has been deteriorating over the years prompting Government to take action to mitigate the harmful effects of pollution. Leapfrogging to Bharat State VI (BS VI) emission norms directly from BS IV for vehicles was one such step. By implementing new emission reduction norms, which will come into effect from April 1, 2020, the government is effectively working towards tackling the menace of air-pollution. Feeling the pressure to adapt the latest emission norms, OEMs are also gearing up to embrace the transition to BS VI standards.
Praveen Nagpal, Chief Technology Officer, Shell Lubricants India, explains, “With the Indian government’s commendable initiative to accelerate the implementation of the emission norms across cities, the industry players have upped their games and are proactive towards the requisite changes. This majorly includes the use of advanced vehicle hardware and the introduction of a new generation of lubricants. The past three and a half years have been the most challenging for the auto industry to meet BS VI norms.”
Upgradation to BS VI standards necessitated alterations in engine and other parts of the vehicle. These changes also had ramifications on the composition of automotive lubricants. “For lubricants, there are some ongoing critical changes which are counter-acting each other. For instance, the case of the move towards engines with exhaust aftertreatment compatibility issues. With change in design and hardware, stress on lubricants will increase which means the performance for lubricants to go further up. In addition, there is a focus on increasing oil drain intervals to reduce total cost of ownership for end users and therefore the demand for high performance and cost expectations has to be balanced,” highlights Nagpal.
The new emissions regulations require reduced sulphated ash, phosphorous and sulphur (SAPS) formulations for all vehicle applications. Nagpal says, “In regard to heavy duty vehicles, products that meet the latest API CK-4 specifications will be available for use in the market. In the passenger car motor oil segment, which had been predominantly API SL or lower earlier, we will see them upgrade to API SN/ILSAC GF-5 and ACEA C2/C5 qualities. In the two-wheeler market segment, API SJ and SL will continue to be the major quality levels, although some growth is relatively expected in API SN.”
Adjusting to new changes
Upgrading lubricants to meet BS VI emission norms is likely to raise the production cost by 10-15 per cent mainly due to the usage of different bases of oil and higher grade additive. Hari Prakash M, CEO, GP Petroleums Ltd, elaborates, “With the adoption of BS VI emission norms in automotive industry, there are changes in fuel requirements to cater need to emissions. Lubricants will have significant changes in view of catalyst compatibility (like low sulphur and low phosphorous additive chemistry in engine oils), lower viscometric (for fuel economy) and better anti-wear protection (for durability). To achieve the desired emission requirements, high performance additive chemistry and higher additive treat rates would be required to ensure the durability even at lower viscosity. Higher quality base oils will also be needed. All these factors would impact the costs of the lubricants.”
Nagpal adds, “The production of BS VI compliant lubricants is expected to witness a shift towards high performance lubricants which might cause increase in price due to increased demands from OEM manufacturers to start selling BS VI vehicles within the stipulated time frame.”
Lubricant makers like Shell, GP Petroleums, Gulf Oil, Castrol, ExxonMobil, Total, etc are also supporting the Government of India’s sustainability agenda by providing solutions that can help achieve a low-carbon future. They are working closely with their customers (OEMs) and suppliers to embrace changes needed to meet the requirements of BS VI emission norms.
“Gulf Oil is ready with customised lubricant solutions for all segments of BS VI vehicles in various SAE grades. We have PV and 2 & 3 wheeler engine oils upgraded with optimised SAPS meeting the latest global and Indian lubricant requirements. We believe that the upgradation of the lubricants will offer a significant opportunity to enhance the value for all parties concerned. There may be significant scope to extend drain and service intervals as well. All this goes to enhancing value and should be viewed as an opportunity and we should not look at costs in the short term alone,” informs Ravi Chawla, Managing Director, Gulf Oil Lubricants India Ltd.
Friction-less shift to electrification
While BS VI norm is immediate concern, the auto industry is also grappling with the issue of electrification. Electric vehicles, which do not require fossil fuels and hence are environment friendly as there is less or no gas emissions involved, are redrawing the map in the automotive industry. Drive towards EV is also affecting lubricant manufacturers and other suppliers in the industry. “EVs are an interesting area of opportunity and this has the potential to change the future of mobility. However we believe that this is going to be a gradual process. EVs will need special fluids and coolants and we are gearing up for the same,” says Ravi Chawla.
Lubricant companies are also gearing up for electrified transportation by developing products which are compatible for EVs. For example, REPSOL, the Spanish oil major which has exclusive partnership with GP Petroleum, is working on the launch of a new range for hybrid lubricants, which is a low-viscosity synthetic lubricants designed to deliver the best performance in hybrid vehicles with gasoline and electric motors, both pluggable (PHEV) and non-pluggable (HEV). “Initially two viscosities will be launched, 0w20 and 5w30. These oils are designed to protect the combustion engine even in the most adverse situations (start-stop), which are common in this type of vehicle. In addition, in regular driving conditions, these products offer fuel-saving advantages. Also we are working on coolants, transmission and gear oils in view of EVs,” informs Hari Prakash.
Shell Lubricants believe that the introduction of electric vehicles will open new doors for the company to explore numerous opportunities. Praveen Nagpal elaborates, “Shell Lubricants is involved in reducing friction in moving parts. We have recently launched a new range of e-transmission fluids, e-thermal fluids and e-greases that will make battery EVs perform better and be more efficient. Recognising the growing demand for EVs, particularly in developed markets, we have been working closely with automotive and component manufacturers to engineer these ‘first fill’ fluids that effectively and efficiently meet a broad range of battery EV performance requirements.”
Moreover, beyond engine oils, Shell plans to install sensors in all parts of an electric vehicle which is able to monitor what part of the car is malfunctioning and other ways of making the EV run more efficiently. “We could be running data analytics, telematics, sensors, AI, and machine learning. Therefore, as a company, we want to fully embrace electrification, because it’s in line with our vision to provide carbon free and energy-efficient solutions,” Nagpal adds.
Optimistic despite dip in auto sales
The Indian automobile sector is currently going through a cyclical slowdown, with the auto sales dropping to an all-time low. Despite tough market condition, lubricant makers are confident of showing better performance as they believe dip in auto sales is a temporary blip. “We have posted volume growth despite the headwinds in the automobile industry. We have the confidence in our business model and strategies to ensure that we deliver value to all our stakeholders despite the current tightening. For a long while now, we have also been working on other sectors such as construction, mining and industrial applications of lubricants and we hope to see decent growth in these segments,” opines Ravi Chawla of Gulf Oil Lubricants India.
Meanwhile, long term growth prospect of Indian automotive sector - one of the largest in the world today – remains strong. Praveen Nagpal rightly sums up, “The current slowdown in sales should have minimal effect on the lubricants market as we expect the fall to subside with pre-buying of vehicles due to new emission norms by the government. According to me, there is no other market like India that will give you this kind of an opportunity.”
EVs are an interesting area of opportunity and this has the potential to change the future of mobility. However, we believe that this is going to be a gradual process. EVs will need special fluids and coolants and we are gearing up for the same. Ravi Chawla, MD, Gulf Oil Lubricants India Ltd
Shell Lubricants India
Phosphorous And Sulphur
BS VI Compliant Lubricants
Gulf Oil Lubricants India
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