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January 17, 2018

Volume 3 Issue 4

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ASTM Passenger Car Panel Gets New Leader

General Motors’ Angela Willis has succeeded Valvoline’s Thom Smith as chairman of the Passenger Car Engine Oil Classification Panel, the first time an OEM stakeholder representative has led the key industry group.

Smith, who had led the panel since 2005, previously announced he would step down from the role after the June ASTM meeting. Intertek’s Joe Franklin, who chairs subcommittee B, in concert with Southwest Research Institute’s Bill Buscher, chairman of Section 1, were responsible for finding and selecting Smith’s replacement.  After a search, Willis agreed to assume the new role, and this was announced to ASTM members on Nov. 13.  Willis became the new chairperson at the Dec. 5 ASTM meeting. Many members indicated to Lube Report that Willis was an excellent choice to take over the committee because of her experience in industry with ASTM developing lubricant specifications and engine tests.

The panel was formed in 1990 when the International Lubricants Standardization and Advisory Committee system was developed and was originally led by Frank Fernandez of additive maker Chevron Oronite. Valvoline’s Smith took over in 2005. Fernandez led the panel from the introduction of ILSAC GF-1 through GF-4. GF-3 had some significant parallels to GF-6. Like GF-6, most engine tests had to be replaced, and the automotive industry switched from leaded to unleaded fuel, complicating the effort. GF-3 also had significant delays due to test development.

In addition to GF-5, for the past several the panel led by Smith has had the complex task of navigating new and replacement tests and monitoring old tests to be sure they will last until new ones are developed. In addition, for GF-6 the panel coordinated efforts with several other committees to help the new specification progress and to manage and approve tests into the ASTM system as well as maintain older specifications via the Category Life Oversight Group. GM’s Willis takes over at a critical juncture, with industry ready to launch API SN Plus and to get work on the GF-6 specification completed.

In today’s environment where resources are constrained, we may not see Willis or anyone else for that matter volunteer to chair an industry committee for as long as Smith or Fernandez did it.  Willis told Lube Report that her priority is to see industry through API SN Plus and ILSAC GF-6. 

General Motors has made it clear to industry that they are committed to developing tests that industry can use in support of industry specifications and the ASTM process, but GM will also develop its own dexos tests where it makes sense.  General Motors wants strong standard industry oils to complement dexos and provide strong performance in the event its customers do not choose to use its dexos approved engine oils.

 “I had hoped to have all the GF-6 tests in place before I handed things over to Angela, but given the challenges, I am pleased that the only test now remaining to be approved is the Sequence IVB,” Smith said.

Smith noted that as he pulls back from direct Industry involvement, Valvoline experts Mike Warholic, Ed Murphy and Josh Frederick will continue to help guide the industry in its endeavors to protect its customers’ automotive investments.

Members all thanked Smith for his efforts and gave Willis a nice welcome at the December meeting, wishing both future success.