According to Kline & Co., synthetic lubricant global market share is expected to climb from 13 percent in 2013 to 15 percent in 2017 and 18 percent in 2023. Singling out the consumer automotive lubricants market, synthetics are expected to account for 33 percent of global demand in 2023, up from 26 percent in 2013.
Original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) are fueling the increased demand for synthetics. “These volume OEMs really move the needle in terms of synthetic penetration, and we expect that to continue as more and more of these types of OEMs convert either fully to synthetic or partially depending on their engine platforms,” said George Morvey, industry manager for Kline’s energy practice. “Certainly we are seeing longer oil drain intervals, and more vehicles equipped with oil life monitoring systems. In some cases, if you follow the system, the car might need an oil change once a year. With some German imports, that could be 14, 15, 16 months before getting an oil change. Those OEM factors are pushing the extended oil drain intervals and in turn creating demand for synthetics.”
As the market continues to shift from do-it-yourself (DIY) to do-it-for-me (DIFM), mechanics and technicians play a key role in influencing customers’ lubricant decisions. “Vehicle owners look to those folks who are the expert to make the brand and product selection, and [a] lot of them are doing that over an OEM-approved brand list,” said Morvey. “A lot of the promotional activity we see in certain country markets is really directed to that decision-maker as opposed to the vehicle owner.”