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Time to step up
India can no longer delay the adoption of superior BS-VI emission norms. But, will the lubricants industry in the country stand up to the challenge? Hari Prakash M thinks that the industry is already moving towards it.
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Author’s Brief:
Hari Prakash M, CEO, GP Petroleums Ltd.

“The existing automotive technology in EU and US cannot be replicated as is in India since our weather and vehicle speeds significantly differ vis-à-vis those nations.”

Stated to be one of the largest in the world, the Indian auto industry contributes 7.1 per cent to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The industry brings in valuable foreign direct investment, introduces the very latest technology that is available in various other countries, provides employment opportunities , thereby helping the country position itself as one of the most forward looking and fastest growing countries in the world.
The c
urrent foreign direct investment in infrastructure and agricultural sectors has a direct reflection in the growth of the auto industry. In totality, the auto industry has grown by 2.58 per cent in FY2015-16, which includes passenger vehicles, commercial vehicles, three wheelers, two wheelers and quadricycle.
The Indian Commercial Vehicle market ranks among the top six markets in the world, and is likely to  witness robust growth in the next decade as the country strives to develop a modern infrastructure spanning the metros, Tier 1, 2 and 3 towns. Recognizing the growth potential of India, almost all the major global OEMs have set up their base here and are eyeing a slice of the large market.
The overall Commercial Vehicles segment registered a growth of 11.51 per cent in April-March 2016 as compared to the same period in 2015. Medium & Heavy Commercial Vehicles (M&HCVs) registered a growth at 29.91 per cent and Light Commercial Vehicles grew marginally by 0.30 per cent during April-March 2016 over the same period in 2015.
A significantly higher growth of auto industry has thrown big attention towards the environmental concerns, all thanks to OEMs for their appropriate planning towards technological innovation to meet stringent standards of Bharat Stage VI (BS VI).


Environment concern
In recent years, air pollution has acquired critical dimensions and it has been reported that the air quality in most Indian cities that monitor outdoor air pollution fail to meet WHO guidelines for safe levels. India is ranked seventh most environmentally unsafe country in the world, where 70 per cent of total air pollution is contributed by vehicular traffic.
It is but well known that environmental issues are more with diesel engines in comparison with petrol engines. Trucks are part of the problem! There is a remarkable shift from diesel variant vehicle to petrol variants, particularly in the passenger car segment. However, quantum of diesel vehicles is significant enough to cause air pollution. However, the increasing numbers of diesel commercial vehicles/trucks are unavoidable in a growing economy. 

Step towards Bharat Stage (BS) VI
The Indian government, with its oil refineries, and all major automotive OEMs are trying to make future ‘breathable’ by applying innovative technology and pumping in large sums in research and development to reduce increased air pollution levels. Presently, BS IV emissions norms are in force and as per the central government direction, Bharat Stage (BS) VI emissions norms should be implemented by 2020, completely omitting BS V Stage.
The revolutionary transformation from the BS IV to BS VI is a Herculean task, which demands massive investments, inescapable technological changes and, simultaneously, wholehearted support by major OEMs.


Euro VI is the latest diesel engine emissions legislation being driven by the European Commission to make cars emissions cleaner. From 1st September 2015, all new cars registered have been mandated to meet Euro VI standards, which will more than halve the amount of nitrogen oxides that a diesel car can emit.
Almost a year-and-a-half before many potential markets have transformed to EURO VI, they had sufficient time to advance the technology and implement it within timelines. India is at the initial stage, and looks all set to get into the fast lane towards implementing BS VI emission norms.


Challenges in switching to BS-VI norms
In terms of fuel quality, BS-IV petrol and diesel have 50 parts per million (ppm) of sulphur, as compared to 150 ppm for petrol and 350 ppm for diesel under BS-III standards. In BS-VI, sulphur content will come down to 10 ppm or less.
This alone will pose immense technological challenges. The existing automotive technology in EU and US cannot be replicated as is in India since our weather and vehicle speeds significantly differ vis-à-vis those nations.
Oil refineries require significant investments to upgrade and to supply fuel types meeting the stringent BS-VI emission norms. The investment approximation is enormous, ranging anywhere between `50,000-crore to `80,000-crore collectively by petroleum companies to make a shift in technology from BS-IV to BS-VI.
Automobile manufacturers surely are under pressure to progress gradually and produce BS VI compliant vehicles. It would be a significant technological jump, especially in diesel filter technology and in optimization of selective catalytic reduction (SCR) technology. It is expected to take as much as four-and-a-half years of lead time for design, application and validation of new engine technologies to move from BS-IV to BS-V, and a similar time to graduate to BS-VI, therefore leapfrogging BS V could lead to safety and quality problems.
Because of the investment in upgradation of engine technology, the investment is expected to be amortized and recovered from after-market. Hence, the chances of increase of the prices of vehicle and spare parts are very high.

Lubricants Industry – Playing Catching-up Game
Year after year, lubricant industry has been progressing to match engine requirements. After-treatment systems on BS VI engines will necessitate low SAPS (sulphated ash, phosphorus and sulphur) oils.

For example, when EGR systems and retarded injection were introduced to reduce NOx (nitrogen oxides) levels, the then current API CH-4 oils were found lacking in soot control handling prompting the industry to introduce API CI-4/CI-4 Plus oils. Both SCR and DPF, in new generation engines, are susceptible to blockage and poisoning to varying degrees; therefore, API CJ-4 specifications with restrictions on sulphated ash, phosphorous and sulphur were introduced.

India, certainly, would need to go beyond API CJ 4 oils, looking towards stringent emission norms of BS VI. Perhaps, Indian OEMs will try API CK-4/FA-4 oils.

Altogether, Indian OEMs expect five key enabling roles from a lubricant:
1) Extended oil drain intervals,
2) Fuel efficiency benefits,
3) Reduced oil consumption,
4) Compatibility with exhaust after treatment systems, and,
5) Compatibility with alternative and renewable fuels.
It is widely known that well-established routes of low viscosity oils, fortified with friction modifiers enable engine oils to deliver fuel economy. Friction dominates four key areas in an engine, such as:
-  the valve train,
-  piston and liner,
-  oil pump, and,
-  crankshaft.
OEMs’ concern with increased wear has to be addressed. However, low viscosity of engine oil can help reduce friction in all these areas.

Future Trends
Overall, the buyer would also be able to comprehend the economic benefit for the higher cost of well-balanced fuel-efficient engine oil. Hence, low SAPS oils are necessary to achieve oil compatibility with after-treatment systems.
Low Sulphated Ash should be achieved in lubricant additives without impairing the lubricant’s oil drain capabilities. Low sulphur oil formulations can be achieved by using Group III base oils or by changing additive chemistry and without sacrificing wear protection, low phosphorous oils can also be tailor-made.
As a mix of ethanol or biodiesel and the use of compressed natural gas (CNG) increases, it is also important to ensure seamless compatibility with alternate fuels. The ability to withstand higher levels of oxidation and nitration, protect against corrosion, prevent phase separation and handle high amounts of fuel dilution without lowering oil drain intervals should be an inherent quality of engine oils for alternate fuel engines.

 Repsol Lubricants in India – ready with CI 4 Plus

GP Petroleums Limited, part of Gulf Petrochem group has recently launched its first Repsol Turbo Plus 15-40 CI 4 Plus Diesel Engine Oil recommended for existing modern engines. Repsol Lubricants, with its base oil suppliers and additive partners, are working extensively to formulate lubricant oil  for passenger cars and commercial trucks, suitable for any modern engines (including those above 2000 cc) meeting BS VI standards.
REPSOL lubricants are developed in their state-of-the-art global R&D centre in Spain, which caters to the newly emerging premium and top-end segments. In India, these premium products are produced by GP Petroleums Ltd* in its own manufacturing plants at Vasai (Mumbai) and Daman, with modern testing facilities, and in accordance to the stringent quality standards certified by Repsol S A, Spain.

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