Russian Drivers Shift Lube Habits

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A growing number of Russian car owners have extended their engine oil drain intervals and become do-it-for-me oil change customers since 2007, although the do-it-yourself segment remains dominant.

Automotive aftermarket research firm GIPA surveyed Russian owners of light vehicles and presented the results Nov. 22 at the Engine Oil and Automobile Chemicals 2010 conference in Moscow.

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Based on the surveys numbers, we know the countrys passenger car park and what percent of drivers changed the oil in the last 12 months, how they did it and how many times they did, as well as how many liters of oil they poured in, said Alexander Gruzdev, head of GIPA Russia.

Russias finished lubricants volume used for oil changes and topping off crankcases in 2009 was 188 million liters, almost 10 percent more compared to the year before, according to Gruzdev. Last year 89 percent of the Russian passenger car owners changed the oil, or only 2 percent less than in 2008. He added, not every Russian light vehicle owner has changed the oil in 2009.

An increasing number of Russian passenger car owners are becoming DIFM customers. In 2009, 33 percent of the car owners who said they changed their oil were DIFM, compared to only 19 percent in 2007, he said. However, 53 percent of Russian car owners who changed their oil in 2009 were still DIY, 10 percent less than in 2007.

Fourteen percent of the car owners who changed their oil in 2009 took their own motor oil in for use in an oil change performed by a car repair shop or oil change service.

GIPAs survey also found that Russian car owners drain intervals are getting longer. The countrys car owners in 2009 have passed 10,440 kilometers (6,487 miles) between two oil changes on average, Gruzdev said, adding that the majority of them, 55 percent, are following the original equipment manufacturers recommendations for oil change frequency.

The majority of the countrys passenger car owners in 2009 shopped for lubes in specialized automotive parts stores. Only 13 percent have bought motor oil at the official dealers services and 24 percent at the independent car services, while almost 20 percent bought finished lubes at some retailers or general marketplaces, Gruzdev said, adding that 10 percent more consumers went to independent car services shops in 2009 to buy the lubes they needed and changed it there.

Its an interesting development in the Russian car aftermarket, because in 2008 and in the previous years, we observed these independent service stations primarily as repair shops, not as places where people buy and do lube changes. These services are now taking a market share from the automotive parts stores and official dealers, he noted.

The first criteria driving consumers to choose certain lubricants is quality, the second is price, the third is the OEMs recommendations, and the fourth is trust in a certain brand. On the other hand, finished lubes dealers, such as specialized automotive parts stores, have slightly different criterion in choosing what lubes to sell. The first criteria is a brands familiarity to the customers, second is the quality of a certain lube, and third are the OEMs recommendations, Gruzdev noted.

GIPA found that the engine oil brands most recognized by Russian passenger cars owners are those of ExxonMobil, LukOil, BP and Shell. The survey found that 63 percent of respondents reported top of mind familiarity with the Mobil brand, followed by 54 percent for LukOils brands, 53 percent for Castrol, and 51 percent for Shells brands.

Concerning other automotive chemicals, the survey found that in 2009 Russian passenger car owners on average made 1.5 purchases of aftermarket chemicals such as engine and transmission oil, stop leak or oil antifriction treatment products. In 2009, only 10 percent of car owners bought such kinds of chemicals, and there were 3.7 million operations adding chemicals to the motor oils, Gruzdev said.

According to GIPAs survey, 21 million antifreeze changes took place in Russia in 2009, or 11 percent more compared to the year before. In 2009, automotive parts stores sold 60 percent of antifreeze changes, followed by independent car services (14 percent), official dealers (7 percent), and retailers and the general marketplace (19 percent).

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