Governments around the world are continuing to introduce regulations to improve air quality and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Infineum Trends 2017 explores how fuels and lubricants are evolving to ensure they contribute towards these challenges, while also delivering sufficient hardware protection and meeting end user needs.

Infineum Trends 2017, which is being shown in a number of locations across North America, contains sections on the passenger car, heavy-duty diesel, marine, fuels, large engine, transmission and small engine markets. It explores the factors driving change to hardware, base stock use, and lubricant and fuel formulations.

Passenger cars

In the passenger car market, stakeholders in North America are focused on the developments of new industry and OEM lubricant specifications.

For ILSAC GF-6, where test development continues to be the major challenge, it is now acknowledged that the first allowable use date will slip into 2019.

General Motors’ complex dexos1™:2015 specification update is almost complete and GM is approving the new oils, which should become more widely available during 2017.

In Europe, revised ACEA specifications were released in December 2016. The key drivers for the changes were the introduction of new and replacement tests and the need to address concerns about the impact of biofuels on lubricant performance.

For the latest information please click to visit our specification updates page.

The industry may be building the cleanest and greenest vehicles in its history but OEMs are still keen to squeeze as much power as possible out of every drop of fuel. However, the complex hardware systems that are being introduced present lubrication challenges in terms of maintaining wear protection and engine cleanliness while still contributing to fuel economy improvement. In addition, new operational issues that arise from in-hardware design, such as low-speed pre-ignition (LSPI), must also be overcome.

In our view, it is essential to ensure that the tests used to qualify the latest lubricants are not only relevant to the hardware, but also address real-world issues and mimic real-world conditions, which is not necessarily the case today.

The pressure to cut greenhouse gas emissions is driving OEMs to introduce more environmentally friendly technologies, although consumers have been relatively slow to respond. To support fuel economy improvement there has also been a trend to thinner oils, with SAE 5W-20 and 0W-20 now the most widely recommended grades for new cars.

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As the viscosity trend picture becomes more complex it will be critical to consider back serviceability and to make sure we have the right lubricants for the right vehicles - old and new.

Heavy-duty diesel

The big news in the North American heavy-duty diesel sector is the successful completion of the new category development process and launch of the API CK-4 and API FA-4 oil categories.

The enhanced fuel economy and durability offered by these new oils will help OEMs to meet regulatory requirements and offer customers advanced vehicles that can improve their return on investment. In addition, because the new oils can provide these benefits over longer drain intervals, they can help end users to reduce costs and maximise vehicle up time.

Click here for more information on API CK-4 and FA-4.

The trend to lower viscosity oils is apparent in this market.

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Currently, SAE 15W-40 is the dominant grade by volume and, although SAE 10W-30 sales have continued their steady growth, the low cost of diesel fuel and the lack of wide OEM support to use API FA-4 oils is likely to limit their adoption rate.

Looking to the future, OEMs are already assessing the technologies that will help to meet Phase 2 of the Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Fuel Efficiency Standards. Although some of the new engine options will impact future lubricant formulations, barring any unforeseen issues, the new API F category oils are well positioned to protect these engines.


The global diesel fuel market continues to face significant challenges as emissions regulations the world over tighten and regional demand patterns change.

Today’s key challenge for refiners is finding the best way to produce fit for purpose fuels in the most cost efficient way.

Tightening emission standards continue to drive down the level of sulphur in diesel fuels. Although there has been limited activity on other mandated fuel quality parameters, OEMs in the US have taken action to institute a voluntary top tier diesel fuel specification. Legislation is also driving the use of biofuels across the globe - another factor impacting diesel fuel quality.

The fuels section also takes a look at the impact of the changing global movement of fuels and at the issues surrounding the production, transportation and processing of non-conventional crudes.

On the marine fuels front, significant change is expected from the International Maritime Organization's decision to cut the global sulphur cap from 3.5 to 0.5% in 2020. Refiners and ship operators have less than three years to make the necessary investments and operational changes to comply with the ruling.

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While heavy fuel oil is likely to remain the fuel of choice for low-speed long distance ships, there is also expected to be an increase in the use of hybrid and distillate fuels.

Click here to see the results of the first Infineum Marine Fuel Quality Survey.

Marine lubricants

Staying in the marine world, Trends examines the market instability and emissions regulations, which are the key drivers for change. While the weak global economy means there is a high level of uncertainty here, challenges are also coming from the need to meet tighter emissions regulations and from changing base stock and fuels availability.

Fuel and hardware choices need to be made to ensure ships meet the varying emissions limits inside and outside of emission control areas (ECAs). However, operators also need to optimise voyage efficiency to keep costs down.

Outside of meeting emissions regulations, the four stroke medium speed and two-stroke low speed marine markets face a number of other challenges.

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Trends explores the changes in the threshold for the labeling of TPP containing formulations, the need to find alternative thickeners to replace bright stocks and the challenges of formulating in Group II rather than Group I base stocks.

Small engines

Motorcycle sales are continuing to grow in many regional markets and global sales are forecast to grow steadily in the coming years. Global motorcycle oil volumes are expected to follow motorcycle sales growth – with Asia accounting for three quarters of global demand.

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Emissions regulations and fuel economy are the two biggest factors driving hardware change, which both in turn impact the lubricant.

In addition to contributing to fuel economy improvement, next generation motorcycle oils must provide 3-in-1 lubrication for the engine, clutch and gears, deliver exceptional durability and offer performance benefits above and beyond the minimum requirements of the JASO specification.

With a quick look at boating, Trends notes that the North American leisure marine market is continuing to recover. Here, sales of new sterndrive and inboards remain slow but outboard engines are leading the way out of the recession.

The high stress these engines put on the lubricant make the use of tailored and certified oils essential.

Large engines

Large stationary reciprocating gas engines are increasingly being used in industrial and commercial applications as a cost effective way to generate electricity while recovering waste heat to provide heating and hot water. To maximise their return on investment gas engine customers look for engines with greater specific power outputs.

The latest high efficiency engines, with tighter tolerances, higher compression ratios, increased turbocharger pressures and higher temperatures present a harsh environment for the engine lubricant.

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These trends mean today’s lubricants must deliver exceptional hardware protection over longer oil drain intervals while reducing oil consumption to ensure maximum uptime, maximum generating efficiency and reduced running costs.

This section also looks at the trends in the North American railroad market, where low freight rates are putting pressure on the market at a time when investments are needed to improve fuel efficiency and to meet tighter emissions regulations.

Hardware changes here have significant impacts on the lubricant particularly in terms of aftertreatment protection, fuel compatibility and contribution to fuel economy.


In the global automatic transmissions market, OEMs are introducing more complex systems to help improve fuel economy. Although conventional automatics will steadily lose market share, they will still account for some 50% of the market in 2021 and OEMs will incorporate design improvements to improve their efficiency. In terms of overall market growth, we can expect DCTs to account for two-thirds and CVTs for about one third.

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In this diverse market, Trends looks at the need for lower viscosity fluids, which also need to deliver improved friction performance, advanced gear protection and better foam and oxidation control.

After exploring the evolving light-duty North American service fill market, the transmission section closes with a brief look at the heavy-duty market. Here, the key priorities are an increased use of fluids with extended drain capabilities and a trend toward lower viscosity fluids to support fuel economy improvements.

Base stocks

Finally, the base stock section looks at the way in which regional demand is shaping investment and rationalisation. The section explores the continued use of higher quality base stocks in crankcase lubricant formulations, which heralds further Group I capacity reduction and prompts investments in Group II and III capacity.

After a look at Group III+, GTL, PAO, re-refined and bio base stocks, which includes video input from a number of industry experts, the section closes with a look at the impacts of increasing market complexity.

Infineum Trends 2017 has been designed to deliver a real insight into the changes and challenges in the transportation industry, the base stock market and in powertrain technology; all of which impact the formulation of fuels and lubricants.

To gain online access to the full Trends 2017 presentations please talk to your Infineum sales contact.


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