A lubricant is a substance that is used to reduce friction and control wear between surfaces that are in contact with a relative motion. Automotive lubricants sold in the aftermarket are required for maintenance and smooth operation of vehicles after their purchase. Typically, a lubricant consists of approximately 80% to 90% base oil, and the rest is additives. However, these percentages vary according to application. Characteristics of a good lubricant include high boiling point, high viscosity index, corrosion retardation, thermal stability, low freezing point, and resistance to oxidation.
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Lubricants are used for their ability to increase the operating lifespan of mechanical parts. They can also eliminate any residue deposited over mechanical parts. Additives are added to the base oil to impart various properties to the lubricant and improve its performance. Lubricant additives are inorganic and organic compounds that are dissolved or suspended as solids in lubricants or base oils. in terms of type, the automotive lubricants aftermarket can be classified into engine oil, gear oil, transmission fluid, and others (including brake oil, greases, coolants, etc.).
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Aftermarket customers require lubricant suppliers to help them reduce their total operating cost. For instance, extended oil drain intervals help fleet owners to reduce their operating and maintenance cost, primarily by keeping cars and trucks on road for a longer duration of time. The type and quality of the lubricants used has a significant bearing on engine performance, fuel economy, and vehicle life. For instance, European cars and trucks have smaller, more fuel efficient and higher performance engines than vehicles in North America and Asia. Better fuel economy in cars can be achieved by reduced engine and gearbox friction, which is achieved by using lower viscosity and friction-modified lubricants.
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Increase in automotive vehicle fleet has been the main driver of the automotive lubricant aftermarket. The vehicles in operation all over the world require lubricants at frequent time intervals for smoother engine operation and fuel economy. The total global vehicle fleet, including passenger cars and commercial vehicles, stood at 1.28 billion in 2015 and is projected to cross the 2 billion mark by 2035 and 2.5 billion by 2050. Increasing vehicle fleet around the globe is a key indicator of increasing demand for aftermarket automotive lubricants in the near future.
The total number of new vehicle sales stood at 96,804,390 units (including passenger cars and commercial vehicles) in 2017. The rapid increase in sales of vehicle in developing countries and development of infrastructure have created a strong demand for aftermarket automotive lubricants. Increase in manufacturing of vehicles is one of the major factors contributing to the expansion of the global automotive lubricants aftermarket.
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