The implementation of the CI-4 Plus engine oil specification in September for Class 8 trucks is critical way station on the path to developing oils for 2007 and beyond. That’s because primarily because it amounts to an agreement among engine makers and lubricant manufacturers not to make any more changes to oil standards over the next two years.
“At this time, CI-4 Plus is being viewed as the last formal specification that will be introduced before the next major category change … in October 2006,” explained Gary Parsons, commercial automotive business unit manager for ChevronTexaco. “This is in preparation for the 2007 model year engines, [which must] meet new emissions standards that reduce particulate and NOx emissions by 90% compared to today’s levels." The new classification stems from the accelerated implementation of the first round of new emission rules, moving from 2004 to 2002, he said.
“It was the EPA consent decree [in 1998] that moved the date up a full two years, so [engine] OEMs and lubricant developers had to alter their product development timelines dramatically as a result,” Parsons said.
The upcoming CI-Plus specification is an update of the CI-4 standard that primarily improves soot thickening performance in new low-emmission vehicles.
Since the formalization of the first specification for new low-emission engines – the API CI-4 – in December 2001, OEMs have introduced more specific oil standards to fine-tune engine oil performance to what’s occurring in low-emission engines. Mack, for example, found that that the internal EGR version of its ASET engines produced a different kind of soot compared to its other models.
“Rather than have each OEM come up with its own oil spec, we worked all of their needs into the CI-4 Plus spec,” Parsons said. “That will free us, as lubricant developers, to focus on the last lap to have engine oils ready for 2007 and beyond.”