Meeting growing demand for CVT aftermarket lubricants

Automakers are under increasing regulatory pressure to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and improve fuel economy. Provided there are no unexpected changes in U.S. legislation on the horizon, the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standard for new vehicles will jump from an estimated 36.6 mpg in 2017 to a whopping 54.5 mpg in 2025. As a result, OEMs have been designing smaller, lighter, more powerful and fuel-efficient engines and transmissions to achieve mandated CAFE requirements.

 

To go along with this, they have specified new, more durable, lower viscosity lubricants to contribute to achieving improved performance – most of which demand increased use of synthetic base oils. In turn, lubricant manufacturers have been formulating a new generation of fluids that enable gains in: fuel efficiency, protection and extended drain intervals.

 

Continuously variable transmission (CVT) technology emerged to help improve fuel economy relative to conventional 3- and 4-speed automatic transmissions. CVTs first made their appearance in North America in 1987 with the introduction of the three-cylinder, 1.2-liter Subaru Justy. CVT technology was slow to catch on due to its limited torque handling capacity. Then mechanical issues arose from the high steel-on-steel friction associated with a belt or chain riding between two pulleys, which distinguish CVTs from automatic transmissions with a planetary gear set. Still, the technology evolved and by the early 2000s CVTs started appearing in more U.S. models sold, mainly in Japanese and Korean imports but also in domestic passenger cars and small SUVs.

 

CVT technology is complicated. It requires a lubricant distinct from other automatic transmission fluids (ATFs) on the market. Over the past 15 years, Chevron has worked with several global automotive OEMs to develop their factory fill CVT fluids. As the technology has become more prevalent, and with increasing numbers of CVT vehicles coming out of warranty, demand has grown for specialized aftermarket CVT fluids. Today, the North America CVT service fill volume accounts for about 4%(a) of the total aftermarket volume, and that is expected to grow to more than 10% by 2025.

 

Professional installers service many different types of automatic transmissions today, including a wide and often confusing variety of ATF specifications, specific to the automotive OEMs (over a hundred and growing). Additionally, there are 20 additional fluid specifications dedicated to CVT service-fill applications alone. This complexity is what drove demand by professional installers for multi-vehicle ATFs and similar aftermarket CVT fluids.

 

Chevron is actively working on a new Chevron Havoline® service fill CVT product for North America. We have spent several years in development, field testing and performance testing to advance a state-of-the-art CVT fluid that meets the widest possible range of key CVT applications. Based on transmission tear-downs, the Chevron Havoline product has shown excellent performance, in some cases better than OEM factory fill CVT fluids. Successfully launched in the Asia Pacific market last year, we are now commercializing in North America.

 

Look for Chevron Havoline® Full Synthetic CVT Fluid – coming in just a few weeks – as an important and versatile addition to your Chevron Havoline product lineup.

 

(a) IHS Markit (Information Handling Services)

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About the Author: About the Author: Scott works in driveline technology for Chevron Lubricants: his focus areas are automatic transmission fluids and tractor hydraulic fluids. He has nearly a decade of experience working in these product areas and is working closely with OEMs to develop the next generation of fluids, with a goal of improving energy efficiency. Scott previously worked as a process engineer and pilot-tested catalyst systems for Chevron’s base oil plant in Richmond, California. He also worked in new business development for Chevron Base Oils, with a focus on Gas-to-Liquids technology. Scott has an M.S. in chemical engineering and his graduate research focused on fuel combustion and real-time monitoring of process emissions. He worked in the plastics industry for three years before joining Chevron in 2002.