By Matt Timmons
Vice President, OEM Engagement
OEMs asked, and the passenger car lubricants industry has delivered an effective answer: American Petroleum Institute. The primary oil and natural gas trade association in the United States. API operates a voluntary licensing and certification program that allows engine oil marketers to use the API Engine Oil Quality Marks if their products meet specific requirements. SN Plus, the supplement to International Lubricants Standardization and Approval Committee. A collaboration between the American Automobile Manufacturers Association (AAMA), Chrysler, Ford, GM, and the Japanese Automotive Standards Organization. ILSAC GF- engine oil specifications target fuel economy, emission system protection, and enhanced engine oil robustness. GF-5, which reached first license on May 1, 2018.
API SN Plus was developed as a lubricant solution to address the issue of low speed pre-ignition (LSPI) in the field. OEMs required a solution to an increasingly prevalent and severe problem that plagued their vehicles. With the Sequence IX Test for Low-Speed Pre-Ignition. Uncontrolled combustion that takes place in the combustion chamber prior to spark in gasoline direct injection (GDI) engines., those vehicles are now better protected—OEMs have a lubricant solution for an issue that would otherwise require costly, time-consuming and progress-inhibiting engine redesign.
It’s our hope that the API SN Plus development process illustrates how the lubricant industry can better respond to OEM needs in the future, because we believe that lubricant design and evolution go hand in hand with engine design and evolution. API SN Plus demonstrates API’s recognition of the need for an immediate solution in the marketplace, in light of the protracted development process for ILSAC GF-6.
At Lubrizol, we’ve made ourselves clear in the past. We believe the current industry model is broken and limits what is achievable within it, stifling innovation and artificially capping the value we’re able to deliver for OEMs and drivers. Existing complexity hinders specification development and slows down the availability of new technology, even when it’s very much needed in the marketplace.
But API SN Plus, and our ability to tackle LSPI, is also proof positive that when the pressure is on, our industry can adapt and respond to critical OEM needs.
And that should be the rule, not the exception. Remember how we got to this point in the first place. ILSAC GF-6, the true successor to ILSAC GF-5, was meant to address LSPI within the overarching new specification. But ongoing delays in the test development exposed the growing severity and prevalence of LSPI in today’s engines, driving OEMs to demand an answer. Under a different model, it’s possible we could have tackled the problem even earlier.
Our view: The prolonged delay in ILSAC GF-6 has highlighted the need for a change in how engine oil specifications are developed, used, deployed and licensed. If we remove complexity from the process, we can become more proactive in meeting the needs of new engine technology.
Although the necessity for API SN Plus illustrates these challenges, it can also pave the way forward. Oil marketers are delivering on LSPI protection because the OEMs demanded it, and because a lubricant’s relevance depends on meeting new challenges quickly and effectively.
Today, it’s the T/GDI engine—tomorrow, it will be something entirely new. But Lubrizol believes the lubricant industry must become proactive in meeting evolving OEM needs. API SN Plus is indicative of what’s possible, and a step in the right direction.