11 OEMs Back Global Spec Initiative


Eleven automakers – the majority headquartered in East Asia – have joined the International Fluids Consortium, the fledgling organization established in 2020 to develop global lubricant specifications.

An IFC official unveiled the list – Honda, Hyundai-Kia, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Subaru, Suzuki and Toyota, along with Jaguar Land Rover, Renault and Volvo – Nov. 4 at the Mineral Oil Technology Congress held in Stuttgart, Germany, by UNITI, the German association of small and medium-sized mineral oil companies.

The consortium also plans a 2022 launch for its first two specs – both for conventional light-duty automotive engine oils – said Michael Kunselman, business development manager for the United States based Center for Quality Assurance, the acting administrator for the IFC.

The consortium wants to establish a global system to replace the existing regional approach to developing automotive lubricant specifications – a system led by organizations such as ILSAC, API, ACEA and JASO. Its aim is to make the development and use of specifications more efficient and less costly.

“Everyone realizes we need a better and more efficient way to move the industry forward,” Kunselman said, alluding to the identified OEM members. “These are the companies that have stepped forward now to create this future through the IFC.”

Organization of the consortium has been spearheaded by Toyota, and for upwards of a year no other members were identified. OEM participation is one key to IFC’s success, and the organization is still working to attract more members.

Officials say the group will have three levels of membership. Automakers will be on the board of directors and decide what specs to develop and what their requirements will be. They will also be responsible for providing expertise, supporting the IFC specs and contribute hardware for engine tests. The second level of membership is for tier one hardware suppliers to the auto industry – especially equipment used in electric vehicles – which will also supply hardware for tests.

The third level is for representatives of affiliate industries, such as lubricant or chemical additive suppliers, which may provide input by participating in working groups and an advisory council. One of IFC’s goals is to establish a system that is dictated more by automakers, in contrast to the consensus approach taken by at least some of the regional systems.

The Center for Quality Assurance is an organization in Midland, Michigan. It manages licensing for a few other lubricant specifications, including Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ ATF +4 automatic transmission fluid spec and the National Lubricating Grease Institute’s High-Performance Multi-use Grease standard.

The consortium’s first two specs will be named GEO-1 and GEO-2. The former is for light-duty automotive engine oils ranging in viscosity multi-grade from 10W-30 to 0W-8, while the latter is for engine oils used in fossil-fueled light-duty vehicles equipped with gasoline particulate filters. Kunselman said IFC plans to introduce both specs next year and that they have already been written by harmonizing existing regional specs – JASO’s GLV-1 and ILSAC’s GF-6A and GF-6B.

“The advantage of harmonizing GLV-1 and GF-6 to the performance level is that is a level that can be reached today using currently available [lubricant formulation] technology,” Kunselman said. “We don’t need a step-change in technology to meet these specifications. That will allow a smooth transition to the new IFC system.”

He added that IFC will next undertake to develop specs for lubricants and fluids used in electric vehicles – hybrids capable of running on battery and internal combustion engines as well as those powered exclusively by battery or fuel cell. “The drive to net zero is really going to drive the specification development in the IFC,” he said, noting that industry specs for EV lubes and fluids do not yet exist. “The time for standardization is now.”