In this section we have collected the most frequently asked questions related to the Marketers' Letter of Conformance. To ensure that the information is widely accessible, we have included different language versions in French, English, German, Polish and Russian.

Should any discrepancy occur between the English version and any other language version, the English version shall prevail.

Frequently asked questions

The European Engine Lubricant Quality Management System - EELQMS (www.eelqms.eu) is an overarching quality management system that embraces various standards, test methods and procedures, Codes of Practice and the ACEA Oil Sequences requirements.  It has been developed jointly by the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA), the Technical Committee of the Petroleum Additives Manufacturers in Europe (ATC) and the Technical Association of the European Lubricants Industry (ATIEL) and is the only quality system that can be used to support ACEA performance claims.

Only marketers who sign and submit the EELQMS Marketer’s Letter of Conformance (LoC) confirming that they comply with the EELQMS guidelines are able to put the relevant ACEA category claims on their product packaging and marketing materials.

 

In order for motor vehicles to function correctly, they require high quality oils and lubricants. The ACEA European Oil Sequences define the minimum quality level of service-fill oils that ACEA members demand for using these oils in their vehicles. 

ACEA requires that engine and performance testing used to support a claim of compliance with these ACEA Oil Sequences should be generated according to the European Engine Lubricants Quality Management System (EELQMS).

Under the European Engine Lubricant Quality Management System (EELQMS), lubricant marketers or manufacturers making claims against the ACEA Oil Sequences are required by ACEA to submit a Letter of Conformance (LoC) to ATIEL. Submission of a LoC implies a commitment to develop and manufacture engine lubricants in accordance with the guidelines described in the EELQMS. Currently, over 200 lubricant companies worldwide have signed a LoC.

ATIEL is a representative body for manufacturers and marketers in the European lubricants industry and seeks to enhance the reputation of the lubricants industry by providing expert advice and promoting superior standards of technology and lubricants performance. In this context, ATIEL manages the EELQMS on behalf of its stakeholders and issues the Code of Practice (CoP) to aid continuous improvement in the development of engine lubricants and the consistency and validity of performance claims made for them. ATIEL is also responsible for the administration of the LoC registrations. To achieve greater compliance within industry, it encourages and facilitates the exchange of information and technical data that supports the education of marketers and it has established a mechanism for the continued monitoring of the quality of automotive engine lubricants that claim to meet the ACEA Oil Sequences through regular product surveys.

SAIL is an independent company that provides Services to Associations and Industry in the Lubricants sector. SAIL is contracted by ATIEL to provide administrative, financial and management services in support of the LoC and product compliance activities.

The 2016 ACEA European Oil Sequences document (http://www.acea.be/news/article/acea-oil-sequences-2016 ) describes in detail the conditions for use of performance claims against the ACEA Oil Sequences. ACEA requires that any claims for oil performance to meet these Oil Sequences must be based on credible data and controlled tests in accredited test laboratories. ACEA requires that engine performance testing used to support a claim of compliance with these ACEA Oil Sequences should be generated according to the European Engine Lubricants Quality Management System, EELQMS (available at www.eelqms.eu ), but ACEA reserves the right to define alternatives in exceptional cases.

EELQMS addresses product development testing and product performance documentation and involves the registration of all candidate and reference oil testing and defines the compliance process. Compliance with the ATIEL Code of Practice, which forms part of the EELQMS, is mandatory for any claim to meet the requirements of the ACEA sequences. Therefore, ACEA requires that claims against the ACEA Oil Sequences can only be made by companies or distributors who have signed the EELQMS Oil Marketers’ Letter of Conformance (for details: www.atiel.org ).

ACEA requires that any claims for oil performance to meet the Oil Sequences must be based on credible data and controlled tests in accredited test laboratories. ACEA requires that engine performance testing used to support a claim of compliance should be generated according to the European Engine Lubricants Quality Management System (EELQMS). Therefore, ACEA requires that claims against the ACEA Oil Sequences can only be made by oil companies or oil distributors who have signed the EELQMS oil marketers’ Letter of Conformance.

ACEA requires that claims against the ACEA Oil Sequences can only be made by oil companies or oil distributors who have signed the EELQMS Oil Marketers’ Letter of Conformance. For any claim being made against these ACEA Oil Sequences, ACEA currently recommends oil marketers to also register their products with the ACEA Registration System on the ACEA website.

ATIEL has issued a new version of the EELQMS Marketers’ Letter of Conformance (LoC) to clarify the responsibilities of signatories and the brands covered by a LoC. The changes are aimed at ensuring that signatories understand their particular commitments under the European Engine Lubricant Quality Management System (EELQMS) by distinguishing between obligations for signatories who develop and/or manufacture lubricants that they market and those for signatories who market lubricants developed and/or manufactured by third parties.

The new version of the LoC is available in this Website’s LoC Registrations section and on the ATIEL website at www.atiel.org/code-of-practice/letters-of-conformance and can be submitted as from September 1, 2017 to SAIL.

Each marketer will need to sign a LoC covering all engine oils making ACEA claims marketed by the company. If the company also supplies products to other third parties who distribute these products under their own private label, the third party will need to submit its own LoC registration covering their products.

LoC registration is renewed annually upon payment of the registration fee. Registrants will receive a reminder that they need to re-register ca. two months before the renewal due date. For 2017, the renewal date is 1 November 2017 but exceptionally, the registration will remain valid until 31 December 2018, i.e. 14 months.

LoC submissions may be refused if the submission is inaccurate, incomplete or if the fee is not paid. SAIL is responsible for the assessment of the application.

Marketers who do not submit a valid LoC do not meet ACEA’s requirements and therefore cannot validly make performance claims against the ACEA Sequences for the products they place on the market.

Marketers who claim compliance with the ACEA Oil Sequences without having signed the LoC expose themselves to sanctions under applicable unfair trade or intellectual property laws.

As a result, any interested third party (e.g. a competitor, a consumer association or a trade association) could file a complaint to national authorities or initiate court proceedings. This could give rise, dependent on the relevant national laws, to injunctions, possibly combined with pecuniary sanctions. SAIL reserves the right to also initiate such actions when invalid product claims are made.

Claims against the ACEA Oil Sequences can be made on a self-certification basis. However, to ensure that claims are credible, SAIL will carry out regular product surveys to confirm broad compliance with the quality requirements by the market players which signed a LoC. These surveys are carried out by an independent product test laboratory and the results of the analyses are evaluated by a panel of technical experts (the Technical Experts Committee). These experts will only have access to consolidated and anonymised information and will never have access to information about the products’ identity or their source.

The fee covers the costs of administration of the system, execution of ongoing surveys of products put on the market by LoC signatories and, when deemed necessary, further surveys of products distributed by other marketers. LoC signatories will have the right to use the EELQMS logo and will also have privileged access to training and education material derived from the results of any studies and analyses carried out by the Technical Experts Committee.

Each registrant will receive an annual invoice ca. two months before the end of each calendar year.

The fee is proposed by SAIL and approved by ATIEL. It will be based on the principle that all costs associated with the running of the registration and survey system are recovered from the system’s signatories.

The fee was calculated on the basis that of each LoC signatory on average at least one product sample would be collected, analysed and evaluated annually. In addition, other product samples may be analysed too, dependent on market conditions. The fee also covers the costs of any additional services provided by SAIL, including the administration of the registration system, the licensing contracts and the publication of studies and analyses.

Yes, every signatory is charged the same registration fee and receives the same services from SAIL.

The fee is for registration of a LoC submitted by the individual lubricants marketer responsible and accountable for product quality of the lubricants they put on the market. Therefore, there is a single flat fee per marketer, and there is no need to pay for different products or brands separately.

New registrants who forget to pay their registration fee will have their application rejected.

Current registrants who fail to pay their annual fee will initially be reminded that a fee is outstanding and needs to be settled in order to retain their registration. If, despite the reminder, the fee remains unpaid, they will be informed by SAIL that the LoC registration is annulled, the licence to the use of the EELQMS logo withdrawn and they are no longer allowed to make claims against the ACEA Sequences.

The following benefits are associated with the registration of a LoC:

  • Only marketers registering a LoC will be allowed to make product claims against the ACEA Sequences.

  • LoC signatories will receive a licence to use the EELQMS logo on their product labels, documentation and other marketing materials.

  • Registration allows signatories to benefit from competing in a market that has established high quality standards and ensured enhanced compliance.

  • The quality survey strengthens the quality image and the credibility of the performance claims of products provided by the individual signatory.

  • The independent quality survey provides individual signatories with feedback on how their products performed.

  • LoC registrants will have privileged access to training and educational materials derived from the results of any studies and analyses carried out by the Technical Experts Committee.

Each year, SAIL instructs an independent laboratory to purchase in a range of countries a selection of products for which LoC signatories make claims for oil performance meeting the ACEA Oil Sequences. The composition of the sample mix is determined on the basis of selection criteria developed in consultation with the Technical Experts Committee. Key properties of the products are analysed and the anonymised results appraised by the Technical Experts Committee to determine compliance.

SAIL will inform the relevant marketers of the details of the product(s) tested (e.g. country, source, product name, code etc.) and of the results of the assessment. If the product is compliant, no further action will be required, but in cases where the product is not compliant, SAIL will inform the marketer of the nature of the non-compliance. The marketer will then be given 30 days to investigate the cause of the non-compliance and inform SAIL of the corrective action(s) proposed or already taken to address the issue. These actions will be considered by SAIL in consultation with the Technical Experts Committee who will need to approve the proposed actions. If the outcome of these deliberations is positive, the marketer will be informed and implement the proposed actions accordingly.

In the unlikely event that the proposed actions are not deemed to have addressed the non-compliance problem satisfactorily and no mutually acceptable solution can be agreed, SAIL will be entitled to impose a sanction on a marketer, the ultimate sanction being a cancellation of the LoC registration.

SAIL contracts the collection and analysis of the products to a reputable third party. This contractor will execute the contracted work exclusively for SAIL and all products, analytical results and other sensitive information is covered by a confidentiality agreement that prevents the third party from sharing any information with others.

Tests of the products are currently based on analysis of the following chemical and physical properties: Viscosity (HTHS, KV(100C), CCS, MRV), Noack volatility, Sulphated Ash, TBN, Phosphorus content, according to the specifications claimed.

No engine tests are envisaged at this stage.

SAIL will ensure that any information on the identity of the engine oils and their marketers, being subject to a product survey is treated and held in strict confidence:

  • All engine oils collected will be coded and analytical tests and product quality assessments will be carried out on coded products only.

  • All information on the provenance of the product such as the date and country of purchase, (re-)seller information, product codes etc. as well as on the identity of the marketer responsible for putting the product on the market will be treated in strict confidence and kept in separate files only accessible to SAIL staff,

  • All communications about the outcome of the market survey and the assessment of the individual product will proceed via SAIL and the identity of the marketer and the details of the product will at no time be disclosed to any third party or any member of the Technical Experts Committee or the Appeals and Sanctions Board.

Signatories whose products are tested will be informed by SAIL of the analytical results and the assessment of the Technical Experts Committee.

The analysis is conducted by an independent laboratory accredited to international quality standards in analytical testing procedures, and repeat testing is a standard practice to assure data integrity. Assessment of the results is additionally carried out by the Technical Experts Committee, a group of highly qualified industry experts, experienced in the development and testing of automotive lubricants. These experts will at no time have access to information about the product’s identity or its source. All product information available is coded by SAIL and all communications about the products will be anonymised.

Products could be acquired in any country and from any source.

At present, testing focuses on small packs, but in future, samples from larger batches including bulk could be subject to testing.

It is the intention to test on average at least one product sample per signatory each year. However, SAIL, in consultation with the Technical Experts Committee, may decide to test certain products or marketers more frequently based on a signatory’s compliance track record.

The marketer will be informed by SAIL of the nature of the non-compliance and then be given 30 days to investigate the cause of the problem and inform SAIL of the corrective action(s) proposed or already taken to address the issue.

These actions will then be considered by SAIL in consultation with the Technical Experts Committee who will need to approve the proposed actions. If the outcome of these deliberations is positive, the marketer will be informed and implement the proposed actions accordingly.

In the unlikely event that the proposed actions are not deemed to address the non-compliance problem satisfactorily and no mutually acceptable solution can be agreed, SAIL will be entitled to impose a sanction on a marketer, the ultimate sanction being a cancellation of the LoC registration.

Yes, there could be various reasons for the cancellation, for example:

  • the marketer withdraws his registration voluntarily;

  • the registration fee is not paid;

  • the marketer’s products are not compliant and any proposed corrective actions are deemed not to address satisfactorily the compliance issues identified.

Cancellation of registration can be appealed and the marketer can present his case to the Appeals and Sanctions Board.

Appeals against assessments and sanctions can be submitted by the marketer to the Appeals and Sanctions Board.

To protect the anonymity of the marketer submitting an appeal, the marketer should contact the Appeals and Sanctions Board via SAIL. Any appeal must be submitted in writing.

You can contact the SAIL administrator on:

e-mail: info@sail-europe.eu

phone: +32 475 30 57 51