LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Recognizing some of its customers weren’t yet ready to transition to the new CK-4 and FA-4 heavy-duty engine oil categories introduced in December, Chevron has opted to continue offering CJ-4 in addition to its new category oils.
“Initially, going into it, a lot of people expected there would be a mandatory conversion to CK-4 or FA-4 and that hasn’t been the case,” Rommel Atienza, commercial brand manager for Chevron in North America told Truck News in an interview at the Mid-America Trucking Show. “To that point, we still have a 15W-40 CJ-4 product available in the market today. That decision was made when we started to hear about the direction OEMs were going and the hesitation some of our customers had in that conversion. They really wanted to see the benefits of CK-4 and FA-4 products before they made that transition.”
Meanwhile, Chevron is continuing its educational outreach to inform customers about the benefits of the new category oils.
“We are finding we still have to continue that work from an education standpoint,” Atienza said. “It’s amazing how many people still have no idea what is going on with that particular transition. People still have a lot to learn around the category change.”
Atienza said Chevron is the only major oil company to continue producing and selling CJ-4 product. Fleets will still have to transition to the new oils as they add new tractors, but extending the use of CJ-4 allows them to defer the 3-5% upcharge for the new oils.
“Some of the folks really evaluated their fleets and whether or not they needed to make that transition at this time, and since it wasn’t mandatory, decided they would stay with CJ-4 for the time being,” said Atienza. “We’re seeing that as an advantage in some cases, where these customers who have older equipment feel they aren’t ready to make that transition and we have that opportunity to keep them on CJ-4 product until they’re ready to make that move.”
Atienza said Chevron hasn’t yet decided when it will discontinue production of CJ-4.
Better performing CK-4 and FA-4 oils hit the market in December 2016. They are required to handle hotter temperatures generated by the latest-generation, low-emission engines. While Chevron has chosen to continue offering both categories, Atienza added it’s not because it doesn’t believe in the benefits of the new categories.
“We’ve done some preliminary teardowns and the data looks really good,” Atienza said of the new category oils. “We are seeing the oxidation stability protection that the new spec’ calls for and we’re seeing a lot less deposits on the pistons. And the oil, at the end of the day, is lasting longer. We are really happy with the results we’ve seen so far.”
While the transition to CK-4 is underway, the adoption of FA-4 – a low-viscosity oil designed to provide further fuel savings through lower high-temperature high-shear properties – has been slow. Only Detroit has announced it’s factory filling with FA-4 and Atienza acknowledged the lack of support for the fuel economy category came as a surprise.
“There has been a much slower transition and we are not expecting a lot of people to move to that this year,” he said. “I think they’re still trying to understand what the benefits are and there just isn’t the demand for it right now. We’re going to keep our eyes on that; we will see what the OEMs do.”
Chevron plans to continue its educational campaign around the new category oils. But it also wants customers to know they don’t have to make the switch if they’re running older equipment and want to continue using CJ-4.
“I think right now, the biggest misconception we’re seeing is, people think there aren’t any other options available,” said Atienza. “When we tell them we still have CJ-4 product available it’s a surprise to a lot of these folks because most other oil companies have made that full transition.”
Of course continuing to offer CJ-4 also means there’s one more product in the marketplace that customers will have to be sure not to put into new equipment. Atienza said Chevron’s CJ-4 oil retains its traditional packaging while CK-4 and FA-4 are both clearly labelled as such.
“That helps our customers reduce the risk of using the wrong product,” he said.
James Menzies is editor of Today's Trucking. He has been covering the Canadian trucking industry for more than 18 years and holds a CDL. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter at @JamesMenzies. All posts by James Menzies