Four years ago, I wrote an article for Lubes’n’Greases covering the quest for improved fuel economy and the impact it would have on base stocks (“The Rise of 0W”). At that time, SAE 0W-20 was already widely recommended for gasoline engines, while SAE 0W-16 was being introduced along with some niche applications of SAE 0W-8 or 0W-12.
In the past four years, growth of SAE 0W-20 has exceeded expectations and is clearly the fastest growing viscosity grade in terms of commercial sales, especially in North America. In Europe, we have seen increasing recommendations for SAE 0W-20 and 0W-30, with some original equipment manufacturers recommending these grades for vehicles that had originally specified SAE 5W-XX lubricants.
What is not yet evident is any significant adoption of viscosity grades below SAE 0W-20, despite much industry discussion and development work. It may be too early, or there may be headwinds that will limit growth of even lower-viscosity products.