Auto Sales Drive India Lube Demand


MUMBAI, India – India will become the worlds second largest commercial vehicle market by 2015, and combined passenger car and commercial vehicle production is expected to grow more than 11 percent per year through 2021. Thats great news for Indias lube suppliers.

Overall, Indias automotive lubricant market will grow at 3.5 percent to 4.5 percent per year in the next five years, R.N. Ghosal, managing director of Tide Water Oil Co. (India) Ltd. and director of Veedol International Ltd., told the ICIS Indian Base Oils & Lubricants Conference here on April 24. Growth in the commercial automotive lubricant segment will be even higher, reaching 11 to 14 percent per year.

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Ghosal, based in Kolkata, gave the conference an overview of trends in Indias automotive sector. India has a growing economy with large domestic demand, he said, however, inflation is a matter of concern. The country enjoyed GDP growth of about 6.9 percent in 2011-2012, and expects GDP growth of 5.4 percent in 2012-2013.

India saw a big surge in vehicle sales in recent years; nearly 18 million vehicles were sold in 2011-2012, of which about half were produced by Indian manufacturers. From 2012 to 2021, Ghosal predicted that passenger car vehicle production in India will climb about 13 percent per year; commercial vehicle production will go up by 11 percent per year; construction equipment production will rise nearly 15 percent per year; and farm tractor output will increase 6 percent per year.

Lubricant demand in India today is about 2 million kiloliters, according to Kline & Co., Ghosal noted. This breaks down to 38 percent commercial automotive lubes, 10 percent consumer automotive lubes, 28 percent industrial lubes, and 25 percent process oils.

In India, as elsewhere, engine oil quality is rising. Automakers want longer life, fuel economy and extended drains. Governments are concerned about emissions and pollution. End users want cost-effective performance, and lubricant and additive companies have a need for product differentiation.

With about 5 million commercial vehicles on the road, said Ghosal, India was the worlds fourth largest commercial vehicle market in 2012, behind China, Europe and North America. But by 2015, India will overtake North America and Europe, becoming the second largest market. Tata is the dominant manufacturer in this segment, with 65 percent of the light duty commercial vehicle market and 63 percent of the medium and heavy duty market.

OEM concerns about hardware durability and their desire for extended drains, lower emissions and fuel efficiency are the key market drivers in India for heavy duty engine oils. All new vehicles are beyond CH-4 levels, and monogrades are declining. In the coming decade, growth will be greatest for 10W 40, and for 20W 50 and 15W 40 for compressed natural gas engines, although current volumes for these grades are small.

Turning to Indias 208,000 kl/yr consumer automotive market, Ghosal noted that 57 percent of this demand is for motorcycles, 31 percent for passenger cars, 8 percent is gear oils, 4 percent greases and 1 percent automatic transmission fluids.

Huge growth is projected for the next five years in two- and three-wheeler production, Ghosal said. Production will more than double from the 14 million units produced in 2010-2011 to over 30 million units in 2020-2021.

Nearly 60 percent of Indias passenger car lubricant market is API SF/CC/CD, and Suzuki is the prime driver, Ghosal continued. The diesel car population is increasing rapidly, due to fuel economy concerns.

For two-wheelers, genuine oils dominate and the market is API SG and above; a significant shift has started to 10W 30 oils, with Heromoto Corp. and Honda.

Indias tractor market is dominated by Indian manufacturers, who claim more than 70 percent of the market. The segment is in transition, said Ghosal, moving towards higher horsepower and an increase in wet-brake models sold. CF and CF-4 levels are most popular; 20W 40 dominates, although 15W 40 recommendations from OEMs are gaining ground.

Overall, concluded Ghosal, OEM influence is growing with extended warranties.

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