Slow Asian Pick-up Seen for CK-4, FA-4


APIs newly adopted twin heavy-duty diesel engine oil categories are unlikely to receive broad early use in developing Asia nations due to issues of fuel quality and engine technology, according to the individual who led the development of the standards.

API CK-4 and FA-4 should eventually become popular and beneficial to the region when conditions in those markets catch up with those in the West, Dan Arcy, chairman of the American Petroleum Institutes New Category Development Team, told Lube Report Asia during an interview here last week.

Use of the new categories will be limited for the Asian lubricant manufacturers and may not be here today, but this is the direction of the future, said Arcy, who is global OEM technical manager and industry trade association liaison for Shell Lubricants. API approved licensees will be able to display the new categories in the API donut for PC-11 formulations as API CK-4, or API FA-4 in December 1 this year.

CK-4 is backwards compatible with current heavy-duty categories such as API CJ-4, and was developed for high-speed four-stroke cycle diesel engines designed to meet 2017 model year on-highway and Tier 4 non-road exhaust emission standards, as well as for previous model year diesel engines. FA-4 is intended for high-speed four-stroke cycle diesel engines designed to meet 2017 model year on-highway greenhouse gas emission standards.

API states that the use of CK-4 oils with greater than 15 parts per million sulfur fuel may impact exhaust after-treatment system durability and/or oil drain interval and necessitates consultation with the engine manufacturer for service interval recommendations. Similarly, FA-4 oils are not recommended for use with fuels having greater than 15 ppm sulfur.

For some Asian countries, like India, where fuel sulphur content is above 15 ppm, the new oil specifications will not be applicable. There will be a time lag in Asia, depending on how fast the original equipment manufacturers adopts technology [especially Asian manufacturers]. The reduction of carbon dioxide emissions is one of the benefits of the specification, and until the engine technology is ready we cant see it here in Asia, said Arcy.

The new API categories were developed in cooperation with the Truck and Engine Manufacturers Association (EMA), which is based in the United States. Although major Asian truck manufacturers outside of Japan and South Korea, like Chinas DongFeng Motor and FAW and Indias Tata are major players in their home markets, they are not members of EMA.

Once these OEMs have a global market, they will have more participation in EMA, said Arcy.

But going global for these OEMs is unlikely till after 2024. Tata is likely to profit from the growth of the Indian market, becoming the second-largest player globally in 2024. But its dependence on one market may turn out to be a major disadvantage. A similar challenge will cause Dongfeng to lose its number two market position and to trail Tata, VW and Volvo in a Chinese market showing little momentum, according to International business consultant, Deloittes forecast in its report, Truck Market 2024: Sustainable Growth in Global Markets.

Even though Chinese OEMs are said to be aspiring to the status of serious competitors, only 3 percent of their total sales will be exported … due to hard-to-surmount differences in specs and emission standards between the Triad markets (United States, Europe and Japan) and low-cost countries, said the report.

Palm oil producing countries like Malaysia and Indonesia have policies in place to increase their consumption of biodiesel, a topic the New Category Development Team was asked to address when it was set up. But according to Arcy, the task forces research did not find specific issues related to biodiesels usage, and so there is no reason to put in tests, he said.