Nippon Oil Makes U.S. Debut


Japans number one oil company is making a two-pronged debut in the worlds largest lubricant market, with introduction of its Eneos-branded motor oils on the U.S. West Coast by Nippon Oil U.S.A., while sister company Nippon Oil Lubricants (America) has begun production of engine oils, automatic transmission fluids and shock absorber oils at its new Childersburg, Ala., blending plant.

Production has begun as of Sept. 29, Nippon Oil Lubricants (America) President Masaaki Hasegawa told Lube Report. Although the official grand opening wont take place until Dec. 5, the Alabama plant is already making lubricants to supply in-state factories operated by Toyota, Honda and Hyundai. The new facility has capacity to produce 38 million liters of lubricants and 800 metric tons of grease per year.

At the same time, Nippon Oils U.S. marketing company, Nippon Oil U.S.A., based near Chicago, announced that this week marks the launch of its premium Eneos-branded synthetic motors oils in the United States.

Eneos (the name combines ENErgy and NEOS – Greek for new) motor oils and transmission fluids are targeted at a niche market, mainly Japanese autos owners and drivers that appreciate high power and superior performance, Hasegawa said.

Eneos is the number one motor oil in Japan, with about 33 percent of that market, said Hasegawa. Our goal in the U.S. is definitely to capture 100 percent of the market that is looking for the best motor oil that is being offered …

Were definitely going after niches, agreed Sarah Park, with Nippon Oil U.S.A.s Eneos sales and marketing office in Chicago. Our prices, about $10 per quart for fully synthetic, will set us apart. Technology is our strength.

The U.S. West Coast is Nippon Oils first target for Eneos, where the company wants to sell to drivers of luxury high-end and high-performance vehicles. We believe the West Coast will be more open to Japanese oils; then well look at the East Coast, Park said.

Currently we put emphasis on petroleum product distributors on the West Coast, Hasegawa said. They have capabilities on both packaged products and bulk sales. In order to make our product available across the U.S.A., we will explore the possibility of online sales.

The seven premium Eneos products being introduced at the SEMA Show in Las Vegas this week – five motor oils and two transmission fluids – are imported from Japan. Asked if the Alabama plant will assume production of Eneos oils for the U.S. market, Hasegawa replied, Exact future date is not determined, but we certainly would like to manufacture the Eneos-branded products here at our facility.

Hasegawa noted that Nippon Oil also plans to continue its relationship with Indianapolis-based Pinnacle Oil, which has toll-blended products for the companys factory-fill business.

Were now figuring out how to market [Eneos] in 2007, Park said. Were looking for opportunities to advertise, and looking for distributors who want to sell Eneos. But we need to create the consumer demand first.

Nippon Oil, which describes itself as Japans number one oil company, is expanding in China as well as in the United States. Nippon Oil has started the new lubricants facility in Guangzhou, China, at the same time as ours, Hasegawa told Lube Report. Thus we have two lubricants facilities in China. In North America, we will continue to work with Pinnacle Oil in Indianapolis as well, and cover an entire area in North America.

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