South Korea’s lubricant market is reacting to morestringent diesel vehicle emission limits thatare being phased in this year and next with higher quality engine oils.
In accordance with Clean Air Conservation Act enforcement rules, the Ministry of Environment is transitioning from a Euro 5 standard to Euro 6. The tighter regulation went into effect in January for new vehicles weighing more than 3.5 metric tons, such as vans and buses. Vehicles with reference weight of less than 1.3 tons, including passenger cars and small or medium-sized trucks, will be subject to Euro 6 beginning in September. Vehicles weighing between 1.3 tons and 3.5 tons must comply by September of 2015.
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To meet Euro 6, vehicle manufacturers need to install moreadvanced after-treatment technologies, such as diesel particulate filters, catalyzed particulate filters, diesel oxidation catalyst and selective catalytic reduction. Engine oil marketers then must adapt their formulations to contain less sulfated ash, phosphorus and sulfur – collectively referred to as SAPS – in order to accommodate those technologies.
Several of South Koreas lube marketers have already introduced oils that meet those requirements.
The move to Euro 6 will cause a continued shiftto higher quality engine oils and base oils, said Lee Dongyun, owner of several mechanic shops and an industry veteran. The prices of engine oils may go higher, but that will beoffset by fuel efficiency gains and prolonged life ofengines and after-treatment systems.
Euro 6 standards apply to newly manufactured vehicles. Dealerships have a one-year grace period before the new rules apply to vehicles that they sell.
Euro emissions standards are developed in the European Union, and Euro 6 goes into effect there this year. It marks a significant step from Euro 5. For example, Euro 6 reduces the cap on nitrous oxide emissions from vehicles weighing less than 1.3 tons from 0.18 grams per kilogram to 0.08 g/km. South Korea employs Euro standards for emissions from vehicles powered by diesel but follows U.S. guidelins for gasoline-powered vehicles.