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April 20, 2016

Volume 17 Issue 52

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Formulators Brace for GF-5/GF-6 Gap

STUTTGART, Germany — Some light-duty automakers and motor oil formulators say the industry may be approaching an unusual bind, with licensing for the ILSAC GF-5 engine oil specification potentially being interrupted before adoption of the next specification, GF-6, Infineum reported at an industry conference here last week.

With GF-6 targeted for rollout on April 1, 2018, industry resources in North America are “consumed” with developing the seven tests that the new specification will include, said Marco Corradi, technology manager at Infineum U.K. Ltd. At the same time, players are concerned that some equipment needed to run certain GF-5 tests may become unavailable before GF-6 implementation.

Precision matrices for GF-6 tests are slated to be complete in July, Corradi said at an Infineum Trends presentation preceding the Uniti Mineral Oil Technology Congress on April 12. ASTM could begin to accept the new tests then, but that would still leave a tight timeline for meeting the current schedule of releasing GF-6 in April 2018. Corradi noted that the schedule has already undergone multiple delays and that observers say it could slip several more months.

Apart from the challenges of developing the new tests, some industry players are bracing for the probability that equipment needed for GF-5 engine tests may not be available much longer, leaving a gap between the two testing categories. GF-5 has five engine tests.

“The industry has never faced a situation of more than one test at a time becoming unavailable or out of control,” Corradi pointed out.

Ron Romano, of Ford Motor Company, said in a video included as part of Infineum’s presentation that ILSAC is very concerned about provisional licensing if GF-5 tests are not available. “[Ford is] working with [The American Petroleum Institute] to address this issue. We are also working to try and ensure that the tests don’t become unavailable. We’re looking at possibly using some of these newer tests that are being developed for GF-6 as replacement tests for the tests that will run out of parts for GF-5.”

Toyota’s Satoshi Hirano, also featured in the presentation, lamented the gap between the categories. “I hope that the industry successfully establishes equivalency between current tests and new tests before we run out of those tests. No one will doubt that this year will be the most challenging one in history.”

The GF-6 specification is set to be divided into two sub-specifications: GF-6A, which will be backward-compatible with GF-5 and previous specifications, yet would represent oils with better fuel economy and more engine protection; and GF-6B, which will offer similar performance, but will include lower-viscosity, XW-16 oils under the new SAE 16 viscosity grade.