New Panel Tackles PC-12 Costs

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New Panel Tackles PC-12 Costs
A semi-trailer truck transports goods along the Columbia River Gorge, located along the border of Oregon and Washington. © Vitpho

The development process that began last month for PC-12, the next heavy-duty engine oil category for North America, has a monetary aspect that’s new compared to previous categories – a task force dedicated to grappling with rising costs of specification development.

The American Petroleum Institute created the task force in response to concerns raised by the American Chemistry Council, which conditioned its December support for developing PC12 on formation of such a panel. The task force held an organizational meeting in late January.

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Industry heavy-duty engine oil performance specifications in North America are developed cooperatively by representatives of engine manufacturers, lubricant marketers and lubricant additive suppliers. In December the Engine Manufacturers Association joined API and the ACC to endorse a recommendation to form a new category development team tasked with developing PC-12 and bringing it to market by 2027.

API represents oil marketers, and ACC represents lubricant additive suppliers. In casting its vote, ACC expressed concerns that the industries had not yet estimated costs of developing PC-12 or determined how they would be covered. According to sources, specifically indicated it was not willing to cover one-third of the price tag, as it did when costs for the previous category were divided evenly amongst the groups.

“ACC’s concerns on the funding mechanisms are valid and were brought up at the appropriate time,” Jeffrey Harmening, senior manager of API’s Engine Oil Licensing and Certification System, told Lube Report.

The task force is directed to estimate the cost of developing the category, Harmening said, and also to develop a funding mechanism and to identify other potential sources of funding.

The expense of developing engine oil specifications has spiraled upward the past two decades due to increases in the number of engine tests that they include, the complexity of those tests and the need to develop guidelines for interchangeability of base stocks used in engine oil formulations.

Expenses are largely wrapped up in the cost of equipment used in engine tests, time and money required to develop those tests and time and money required to run tests that verify that engine and bench tests in specifications discern between oils that do provide the desired performance and those that don’t and to run additional tests that verify that test results are reproduceable between different laboratories.