Low Total Cost of Ownership: Key driver for today’s engine oil technology for 2Ws

Team TWF spoke with Mr. Srikant Viswanath (Global Technology Manager, Shell Projects and Technology, India) who shed light on Shell’s focus on providing Low Total Cost of Ownership Solutions and their readiness for BSVI, Electrification & Partnerships.

Q1. Majority of the Indian market is still cost conscious; whereas for a product like yours, total cost of ownership needs to be considered while taking a buying decision. Can you illustrate with a simple example as to how using a Shell product would help in improving fuel economy and reducing total cost of ownership?

Mr. Srikant Viswanath: The key driver today for oil technology for 2wheelers, based on OEM and consumer demand is:

Total Cost of Ownership, which means:

1.) Fuel Efficiency resulting in lower operating costs and lower CO2 emissions. In addition, the GTL fuels also meet Euro 5/ BS VI CO2 emmission norms.

2.) Maintaining high levels of Durability of engine, gear and clutch (incl catalyst), while

3.) Extending the ODIs (Oil Drain Intervals) for lower maintenance costs

This has necessitated the introduction of more advanced engine oil technology to achieve improved performance. We have had to be very careful in this product development, as the oil in 4stroke motorcycle, does not only lubricate the engine but also the gear and wet clutch. Also the higher specific power requirement of 2 wheeler’s requires us to follow exhaustive lab/ field validation to ensure that oil is able to withstand increased stress on the oil.

At Shell we are constantly working on more advanced 2Wheeler engine oil technology to not only meet regulatory requirement but provide oils that are able to bring down the Total Cost of Ownership of 2Wheelers.

Q2. How is Shell gearing for BSVI migration?

Mr. Srikant Viswanath: Euro 5/ BS VI regulations for 2Wheelers come with much more stringent particulate matter (PM) and Nitrogen oxide (NOx) levels. This will necessitate hardware changes like move to electronically controlled fuel injection engines and more advanced catalysts will be used in the coming years. This may require chemical limits to be controlled in the oil (e.g. Phosphorus). Furthermore JASO 2021 specifications and On Board Diagnostics (OBD-II) in 2023 will come with its specific requirements.

Shell has had significant experience with implementation of Euro and CAFE norms over the last decades in the Commercial and Passenger area.  Learning from those experiences we have already started working with the key OEMs to develop more advanced engine oils.

Addressing the chemical limits at the laboratory is not sufficient but based on field validation we have to have clear strategies to manage field issues such as:

1) High levels of fuel dilution

2) Catalyst life

3) Bio-fuel compatibility etc.

We at Shell understand that based on the type of 2 Wheeler segments and drive-cycles, India will present its own set of unique performance challenges. Therefore, Shell is working closely with key OEMs so that relevant products can be launched to address the specific needs and issues of the India market.

Q3. As the move to electric vehicles steadily gains speed, how do you think that will impact lubricants demand?

Mr. Srikant Viswanath: Shell Lubricants ambition is to reduce our CO2 footprint by 50%, this requires working in partnership with governments, industry consortia and OEMs to deliver a variety of Fuel, Lubricant and Mobility solutions that can meet the requirements of more energy and mobility solutions whilst reducing net CO2 footprint. If we delve a bit on the Energy source for the fuel, there will be plausible pathways and not a few simple choices as we currently have. There will be an increasing dependence on Renewables to be the Energy Source to convert to both Liquid, Gaseous fuels and Green electricity. There is increasing use of novel concepts like bio fuels.  One such example is IH2, A waste-to-fuel technology invented by US based Gas Technology Institute (GTI) in 2009 which has been further refined through joint development with Shell owned CRI catalyst company. The process converts agricultural, municipal and permitted plastics waste into drop-in fuel that meets BS VI specifications. Shell has a 5 TPD capacity demo plant at their Technology Centre in Bengaluru. This will mean efficient use of waste materials (e.g. urban waste, agriculture waste etc.) which will mean improved air quality and reduced net CO2 footprint.

As per global trends traditional and renewable fuel options will continue to play a part in the 2 wheeler category along with EV options

Q4. Shell follows a consultative approach, where in it looks to partner with the industry stakeholders such as OEMs, suppliers, industry bodies and others to co-engineer and deliver superior and long-lasting products. How is this philosophy providing an edge to Shell? Can you please share an example.

Mr. Srikant Viswanath: Shell has many years of experience of developing dedicated 2 wheeler oils. The specific power requirements and the fact that a 4 stroke motorcycle oil is used for lubricating not only the engine but gear and clutch, this presents it’s unique set of challenges.

Over the years Shell has tried to work in a Co-engineering approach with OEMs. This has meant that Shell has been involved from design stages of the  hardware, which has helped to tailor the oils to meet the varied requirements in an optimum way.

This involves understanding the friction better through modelling studies, developing thinner oil candidates which are then tested on the prototype engine not only to understand the gain in fuel economy but to understand whether the required durability is not compromised in anyway. This multi-year programme also involves in depth laboratory tests/ engine based laboratory testing and finally a comprehensive filed evaluation to ensure that the benefits found theoretically and in the laboratory are successfully transferred to the field.

Q5. Lastly, it would be great if you could let us know what excites you to be a part of the upcoming Two Wheeler Forum 2018?

Mr. Srikant Viswanath: To be able to engage with the Who’s who in the Indian 2 Wheeler industry, understand the views of various stakeholders and contribute to building the pathway to a smooth BS VI transition and beyond.