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October 21, 2015

Volume 17 Issue 52

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GM Delays Dexos1 License Expiration

BOCA RATON, Fla. – It is taking longer than hoped for candidate engine oils to complete the testing and review process for General Motors’ Dexos1 Next Generation specification, so the automaker is delaying the expiration of current Dexos1 licenses. These had been due to die in August, but the company’s Eric Johnson says licenses for the earlier version of Dexos1 will be stretched out a couple more months, until Dec. 31, 2016.

Speaking yesterday to the annual meeting of the Independent Lubricant Manufacturers Association here, Johnson stressed that no new licenses are being considered or granted for oils meeting the earlier Dexos1 specification, which was first required for GM’s 2011 gasoline-fueled vehicles. “August 18 was the last day any new formulas were reviewed for licensing to that original specification,” he said. “Now we are only reviewing products that meet Dexos1 Next Generation requirements.”

More than 100 individual companies are licensed to Dexos1, covering well over 200 brands and 400 individual products, and the licensing program’s administrator, the Center for Quality Assurance in Midland, Mich., says that the renewal request rate is roughly 95 percent. So there is a substantial number of candidate oils clamoring for licensing review.

Dexos’ licensing committee has been working hard to fulfill the requests, said Johnson, GM’s fuels and lubricants industry liaison. “Previously we had quarterly meetings to do the review,” Johnson said. “Now we are meeting monthly to get through the reviews more quickly so everyone can get their new licenses.” Some oil companies have multiple products and brands waiting for review, so GM’s policy is to try to review at least one product from each company in the applicant pool each month. That way all formulators are treated fairly and each oil marketer can secure at least one license – hopefully starting with their largest-volume Dexos product, Johnson said.

One reason for the lag in reviews may be that Dexos1 Next Generation has a long list of tests that must be passed by candidate oils. Some of these take long times to perform, which ties up the test stands at laboratories like Southwest Research Institute and Intertek, and other tests have only one or two stands in operation anywhere.

For example, there’s the new GM turbocharger deposit control test, a fired engine test which takes 535 hours to run – that’s more than three weeks. In another case, GM’s stochastic pre-ignition test takes only 35 hours to run, but there is only one stand running it, at Intertek in San Antonio. This proprietary test “actually is pretty repeatable,” said Johnson, “and was developed by GM with the strong cooperation of the engine testing laboratories.”

Not yet part of the Dexos1 NG specification is the new Sequence VIE fuel economy test, which has been accepted by ASTM for precision matrix testing and takes 200 hours to run. Once the test’s precision is demonstrated, Johnson said GM may adopt it into the Dexos1 NG test regime, but meanwhile it continues to require the Sequence VID test to measure the fuel economy improvement of candidate oils. As well, fuel economy is tested in a Chevy Cruze passenger car running on a dynamometer test stand at SwRI, which is also in San Antonio.

In passing, Johnson mentioned that Dexos2, GM’s oil specification for light-duty diesel engines, is also moving towards an upgrade, and expected for release during 2016. He had no information to share at this time about the Dexos2 upgrade though, because that specification is being managed by his GM colleagues in Europe, where passenger car diesels are far more widely used than in North America.