The North American heavy duty vehicle industry is set to face significant changes towards the end of 2016. The introduction of the new PC-11 legislation will result in the largest change in oil specifications the industry has seen in its history. With such significant developments happening across the pond, it is crucial to consider the current lubricant landscape in Europe and how the new legislation in North America may bring innovations closer to home.
There are a number of factors which led to this new legislation coming into place:
- Diesel engines have changed considerably since the American Petroleum Institute (API) defined the CJ-4 diesel engine oil category almost a decade ago.
- Recognising this, the Engine Manufacturers Association (EMA) made the request of the American Petroleum Institute (API) to develop a new oil category that could meet the demands of modern engines that were in development. The manufacturers wanted oils that could help reduce CO2 emissions and improve fuel economy.
- The EMA also required performance upgrades such as oxidation stability, resistance to aeration and increased shear stability.
- There was also a collective request from environmental agencies and the Engine Manufacturers Association (EMA) in North America to produce a new standard of engine oils which are more efficient, greener and higher performing.
These pressures on the industry created a need for a new category of lubricant specifications, resulting in Proposed Category 11 (or PC-11 for short). For the first time, there will be two tiers of heavy duty engine oil as part of the new PC-11 category. PC-11A (which will be formally known as API CK-4) will be an upgrade to the current lubricant specification and will be designed with improved oxidation resistance, shear stability and aeration control. PC-11B (which will be known as API FA-4) will meet the new specification with the same improvements as CK-4 using only lower viscosity oil (specifically lower HTHS) in order to maximise fuel economy without sacrificing engine protection.
Who will these changes affect?
While every fleet business will be affected by the introduction of PC-11 specifications, the impact will vary depending on the size and type of the fleet. Many fleets are comprised of a range of models of varying ages, and so there may not be a uniform oil solution for all vehicles, meaning managers will need to understand the best solutions across their operations to witness the true benefit of the new specifications.
What is the future of the European lubricant landscape?
With the impetus for environmental protection clearly on the EU agenda, fuel economy has become a primary factor in equipment design and operation, with OEMs tied to legislated commitments to maximise and maintain fuel economy over equipment life. Simply put: the better the fuel efficiency, the less CO2 (and other) emissions.
Of course, the inexorable drive for improved fuel economy also has a direct impact on the base oils market. The last few years have seen a huge amount of activity in the base oils market as OEMs and their lubricant partners try to put in context the impacts of changing legislation and associated technical challenges.
The realisation has been that older, Group I based lubricants have a finite life in modern automotive applications and as such a shift towards higher performance Group II and Group III based products is inevitable. As a primary investor in lubricant technology with a long history in manufacturing high performance base oils, Petro-Canada Lubricants is well positioned to face this challenge. Based on our high performance Group II and Group III base oils, our DURON heavy duty diesel engine oil product line is perfectly placed to help the fleet engineer manage this transition.
Although PC-11 oils have been specifically designed for the North American market, it is clear that similar drivers for innovation are already under way in Europe. The early adoption of lubricants that promote fuel economy creates an opportunity for the proactive fleet manager to both reduce their fuel costs and improve the performance of their fleets. The understanding of the benefits that lubricants can bring in fuel economy is growing, and whilst there is a choice in most cases today as to whether to adopt these products or not, that choice is unlikely to exist in the future.
For more information on the new PC-11 generation of oils, please visit www.herecomespc11.com, where Petro-Canada Lubricants provides a comprehensive guide to the new category.