The end of ACEA?

Andrew Goddard, Chairman, Verification of Lubricant Specifications

Every few years ACEA, the European Association of OEMs, revise their engine oil sequences to reflect developments in engine technology and emerging regulatory requirements for lower emissions.

Last year the expected publication of the ACEA 2018 engine oil sequences was postponed due to the lack of available engine tests to underpin these sequences.

Even as late as January 2019, ACEA re-issued a second revision to the ACEA 2016 engine oil sequences citing amendments, and correcting errors that quite frankly should not have been made in the first place.

So what is going wrong? The European automotive industry has built its business based on the internal combustion engine. Regulatory developments to curb emissions of these types of vehicles have led to an acceleration in the stringent requirements that modern engines must meet.

Diesel vehicles have been particularly hard hit with regulators moving against these types of vehicles with consequences for international investment in new production models. Witness the decision by Nissan to build its new X-Trail model in Japan and you can see the effects that an uncertain regulatory environment has on the decision to produce new diesel vehicles in Europe.

The dieselgate scandal also hit confidence in the motor industry hard. More than one major automotive manufacturer was caught out by software devices designed to suppress emissions while maintaining fuel economy as vehicle owners have rightly come to expect.

Caught between a perfect storm of high regulatory standards and rising consumer expectations, automotive manufacturers might prioritise future


automotive investment in emerging new technologies such as electric hybrid vehicles running on two engines, an electric motor supplemented by an internal combustion engine, or even pure electric vehicles.

If investment in emerging and new technologies are key to the future of the sector, then what is the incentive to keep ploughing money into older and increasingly redundant automotive engine forms? If the future is electric, hybrid or even hydrogen fuel cell then surely that must be the future for automotive technology investment.

The impetus to maintain investment in internal combustion engines (ICO) and hence keep updating the ACEA engine oil sequences must therefore reduce over time. Certainly the ICO is with us for the foreseeable future , but with an ageing vehicle population where the average age of vehicles is nearer to ten years than it is to five, we might begin to see future updates to the ACEA engine oil sequences reduce from four to perhaps five, six or even seven years until...

If electric vehicles require around one litre of lubricant covering transmission and perhaps braking, rather than the four or five litres a conventional ICO vehicle requires, then it is possible to see a future where the ACEA engine oil sequences might be suspended in time and no new updates issued.

In this case what would be the role of EELQMS, the European Engine Oil Quality Management System and moreover, what would be the role of the European Technical Association, ATIEL?


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