Lighter Engine Oils Lose Ground in Russia


Lighter Engine Oils Lose Ground in Russia
Motor oil bottles on the shelves of an automotive parts store in Russia. Lube Report Staff Photo/Boris Kamchev

Low-viscosity motor oils are losing ground in Russia at a time when many Western motor oil and car brands have exited the market, leaving voids filled by Chinese car brands and the heavier oils that they use, according to a Russian consulting firm’s findings.

The Chinese cars gaining popularity in Russia use crankcase lubricants ranging from 5W-30 to 10W-40, and those viscosity grades are dominating the market, according to a study by B2X, a Moscow-based consultancy.

“In Russia, during the past few years we observed growth of sales of low-viscosity oils – 0W-20 or 0W-30 grades,” the study’s author, B2X Managing Partner Anatoliy Filatkin said in a presentation posted on the consultancy’s Telegram channel. “However, we are seeing a U-turn of this trend caused by the retreat of the Western motor oil producers and the change of origin of the new vehicle fleet from European and Korean to Chinese.”

According to the study, 0W grades made up just 4% of passenger car motor oil sales in Moscow and the surrounding area in May of this year, down from 6% in the beginning of 2022.

In contrast, the combined share of 5W-40 and 5W-30 grades was steady over that period at 80%, while the share for 10W-40 products increased from 15% to 17%.

Chinese car brands constituted 56% of new car sales in Russia in September 2023, more than double from their 27% share 12 months earlier, according to a report by Autostat, analytical firm in the Russian automotive sector.

“Thus, Chinese [brands] constitute a majority of all foreign new car sales in the Russian market,” Autostat said. “While in the used car segment, a majority, or more than 50% of total sales, are Japanese-made cars.”

The consultancy also found that in September 2023 Russian models accounted for 34% of new car sales, down from 41% in the same month last year. Russian automakers have been hampered by Western sanctions imposed over the country’s invasion of Ukraine.