GM’s new engine oil specs demand mainly Group III base oils

13 October 2010 09:31  [Source: ICIS news]

DUBAI (ICIS)--General Motors’ (GM) new engine oil specifications dexos 1 and dexos 2, which are being rolled out worldwide, will require lubricant suppliers to use Group III base oils almost exclusively, a senior project engineer with the company said on Wednesday.

Eric Johnson told delegates at the 7th ICIS Middle Eastern Base Oils & Lubricants Conference that additive technology might be developed to allow Group II base oils to be used, so the Group III requirement was “perhaps not 100%”.

The dexos specifications are controversial because they supersede industry standards that automakers previously developed collaboratively with the oil and chemical industries.

Johnson said that the US, Europe and other regions all had different systems in place to test and approve engine lubricants. GM’s dexos programme was the company’s first common engine oil specification across all regions.

The most recent engine oil specifications in the US took six years to complete, and Johnson said it would probably be the last to emerge from the collaborative system. ILSAC/Oil, as the US system is known, “is incapable of developing a new classification by 2014”, he said.

Additionally, ILSAC/Oil had no funding mechanism and was confusing to consumers, Johnson said.

GM would charge a dexos licence fee and collect royalties from lubricant manufacturers that would fund further development of the specifications and a consumer awareness programme, Johnson said.

He estimated the cost of developing new engine tests for GM vehicles by 2014 at $35m-40m (€25m-29m), and said that the fees and royalties would amount to “pennies per gallon” in additional costs for lubricant blenders. He admitted that “the first gallon will be very expensive”.

Johnson denied that licensing engine oil would become a profit centre for the company.

“GM is in the business of making cars,” he said.

The dexos specifications for spark-ignited and diesel vehicles would be rolled out in most regions for the 2011 model year or the 2011 calendar year. Launch schedules in India and South America were being evaluated but would likely take place during 2011, he said.

Johnson quoted recent research showing that many engine oils on the market failed to meet the specifications on their labels when tested for quality, including a Shell survey that found 53% of private label motor oil were off-spec or tested poorly.

 ($1 = €0.72)

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By: James Mills
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