Picture of vehicles on the driveway.

Making transmission lubricants  

Challenges: To succeed in today’s market, your transmission lubricants must meet increasing demands for fuel economy and emissions reduction without sacrificing wear protection. Your customers also require durability, even fill-for-life capability in passenger vehicles, despite ever more challenging operating conditions. And the market is being shaped significantly by the needs of electric vehicles.

How we can help: Our advanced synthetic base stocks and world-class formulation expertise help transmission lubricant manufacturers meet the needs of today’s – and tomorrow’s – drivetrains. Transmission lubricant formulators rely on our synthetic base stocks to deliver higher performance and lower viscosity while providing exceptional oxidative stability, shear stability and low temperature performance, which enable longer drain intervals and energy efficiency.  

Lubricant solutions

Electric vehicle (EV) driveline fluids  

Hybrid and electric vehicles bring new requirements for electrical and thermal properties in lubricants. Our scientists are creating breakthrough synthetic base stock formulations that meet the needs of this expanding market.

Automatic transmission fluids (ATFs)  

To be competitive, ATF lubricants need enhanced durability, providing wear protection at lower viscosity as well as oxidative and shear stability even in extreme temperatures. That’s why more formulators are relying on our advanced synthetic base stocks for improved performance capabilities compared to mineral-based oils. 

~40% of factory fill ATF is synthetic

Continuously variable transmission fluids (CVTFs)  

CVT fluids must provide balanced frictional properties for desirable performance in the chain- or belt-and-pulley system, bearings, clutch and torque converter. Customers also expect oxidative and shear stability, along with low-temperature performance. Our synthetic base stocks have demonstrated superiority to mineral-based oils in these and other performance areas.

Balanced frictional properties

Heavy-duty manual transmission fluids  

Energy efficiency is becoming more critical than ever in the heavy-duty market. Through enhanced wear protection at lower viscosity, our advanced synthetic base stocks help finished lubricants meet evolving emissions regulations while increasing drain intervals even at high temperatures. 

Market trends

Increasing demand for fuel economy continues to impact the transmission lubricant market, as does the growth of electric vehicles.

1. Fragmented passenger vehicle market

Today’s passenger vehicle transmission market is fragmented, with preferred styles differing by region and even by areas within regions. These differences likely will continue in the near future. The largest EV presence is in Asia Pacific, with China leading global growth. We have seen large growth in dual-clutch transmissions (DCT) in China, while Japan still favors CVT. As automatic transmissions continue to dominate in the U.S., DCT popularity is growing in Europe, along with EV and hybrid vehicles.

2022 Global transmission market share

2022 trasmission market acronyms.

2022 Regional transmission market share

2. Consolidated heavy-duty market

Unlike the fragmented passenger vehicle transmission market, the heavy-duty sector remains mostly unified. As the chart below makes clear, Class 8 transmissions account for more than 50% of global market share. More than 90% of Class 8 transmissions are manual or automated manual. Electrification is not expected for Class 8 in the near future, but we might see some growth in lighter commercial vehicles.

2022 global transmission production

3. Synthetic lubricant growth

Despite the different styles, today’s drivetrains generally feature higher power outputs and more compact designs, with lower oil volumes in circulation. Higher temperatures are exceeded only by higher customer expectations for energy efficiency, wear protection and fluid durability. To meet these challenges, formulators are turning to synthetic base stocks, and forecasts see this trend continuing. The chart shows that while total lubricant growth will be limited, synthetics growth will be robust. 

Total lubricant demand

Synthetic lubricant demand

Lubricant demand key

Source: Kline & Company

Inside insights

Explore ways we can help your business.

  • ExxonMobil Chemical Lubricants formulation

    Suite of solutions

    Explore the formulation and performance advantages provided by our suite of advanced synthetic base stocks

    Learn more
  • ExxonMobil Chemical plant in Baytown, Texas

    Investing in reliable supply

    Through significant investment in global synthetic base stock capacity expansion, we can deliver what you need where and when you need it.

    Learn more
  • Synovation video – Synthetic vs. mineral base stocks

    Find out the distinct performance advantages synthetic base stocks provide over mineral-oil base stocks

    Watch the video

Find the answers you need in our library of informative case studies, white papers, factsheets and more.

Explore library

Browse products  

Broad portfolio of synthetic base stocks

  • Industrial Mining Shovel with Graphics

    SpectraSyn Elite™ mPAO

    High-viscosity metallocene polyalphaolefin base stock provides high performance at a wide temperature range and exceptional low-temperature properties.

    Learn more
  • traffic on highway

    SpectraSyn Plus™ PAO

    Advanced low-viscosity synthetic base stock for low volatility and low-temperature fluidity to produce advanced lubricants.

    Learn more
  • truck taking turn with rolling shutter

    SpectraSyn™ Hi Vis PAO

    High viscosity base stock especially suited for industrial oils requiring high stability under harsh operating conditions.

    Learn more
  • Cars going through intersection with running shutter

    SpectraSyn™ Low Vis PAO

    Low viscosity base stock offering low-temperature fluidity, low volatility and improved thermal stability.

    Learn more
  • Industrial Rotary Screw with highlighting

    Synesstic™ AN

    Alkylated naphthalene base stock often used as blend component for additive solvency, seal compatibility and hydrolytic stability.

    Learn more
  • Airplane taking off at night

    Esterex™ esters

    Organic esters are well-suited as a blend component for additive solvency, seal compatibility or biodegradability.

    Learn more

Let’s talk about how we can support your success.