Next API Heavy-duty Spec Bound for Market


PC-11, the next heavy-duty engine oil category from the American Petroleum Institute, cleared several of its final hurdles this month and is being formally balloted by its Lubricant Committee to allow licensing to begin on Dec. 1, 2016. Once adopted the category will be renamed API CK-4, with a companion fuel economy version named API FA-4.

Anticipating a successful ballot, oil marketers can now lay their plans to roll out CK-4 and FA-4 products, but next Dec. 1 will be the first date licensees may display these designations in the trademarked API donut on their labels.

Products meeting CK-4 will continue to be backwards compatible with earlier categories, such as CJ-4 and CI-4 Plus. However, FA-4 may have only limited backwards compatibility due to the fact that its minimum high-temperature, high-shear viscosity falls below that specified in prior category requirements.

APIs heavy-duty engine oil categories are one of several standards employed throughout Asia. Japanese trucks are used widely throughout much of Asia, and some Japanese manufacturers recommend engine oils meeting the Jaso specification developed by JAMA, the Japanese Automobile Manufacturers Association. Some European truck manufacturers recommend oils meeting ACEA (European Automobile Manufacturers Association), and some Japanese and European original equipment manufacturers use their own specifications.

API said companies based in the Asia-Pacific region have received licenses to market 183 heavy-duty engine oils as meeting its existing categories. Of those oils, 58 are marketed by companies based in Taiwan, 57 by companies in China, 55 by Japanese companies, 28 by companies based in Singapore, 24 by Malaysian companies and 17 by companies in India.

We do expect an increased number of licensees in the future, APIs manager of engine oil licensing and certification Kevin Ferrick told Lube Report Asia.

The PC-11 approvals came in a flurry of meetings on Dec. 8, 9 and 10 by several organizations involved in development of the category: ASTMs Heavy Duty Engine Oil Classification Panel; the Diesel Engine Oil Advisory Panel, representing engine builders and oil and additive companies; and the New Category Development Team.

One step remains: APIs Lubricants Group must formally accept and write PC-11 into Document 1509, which governs the institutes engine oil licensing system. In addition, limits for viscosity grade read across and base oil interchange must also be settled and written into the specification.

Another and more provocative issue is how marketers will differentiate the new oils – CK-4 and FA-4 – and how theyll communicate the differences effectively to end users.

API commissioned a study to determine what users value and believe to be descriptive of oil performance. The first results from this study showed that brand name and viscosity grade are the only information that participants consistently said they recognize! The API donut trademark and other terminology are mysteries to most users.

Given that, API has decided to develop an educational piece to communicate the benefits of engine oils with API category designations, which will include information about the importance of viscosity grade and its impact on fuel economy.