Retail Prices for Synthetic Motor Oil Edge Up
Average retail prices for synthetic motor oils in this year’s fourth quarter were up slightly from a year earlier and were substantially lower at the largest big box retailer, compared to the top five automotive parts stores, according to the latest Retail Lubricant Price Tracker data from Petroleum Trends International.
The average price per quart for passenger car motor oil at the five leading auto parts stores in the United States during the fourth quarter this year ranged from $6.43 for conventional products up to $9.98 for synthetics, according to PTI’s survey. At the country’s leading big box retailer, the average price per quart ranged from $4.24 for conventional oil to $7.52 for synthetics.
PTI’s price tracker compiles pricing data gathered nationwide and monthly for engine oils sold at big box retailers and automotive parts stores. Petroleum Trends International notes that its prices are based on a sampling and may not reflect in-store or online discounts.
PTI found that the average price per quart for synthetic motor oil at the leading big box retailer in the U.S. edged up 1.5 percent to $7.52 in the fourth quarter this year, compared to 2017’s fourth quarter.
The highest average price per quart for synthetic at the largest big box retailer in the fourth quarter this year was Royal Purple High Performance at $9.78. It was followed by Mobil 1 Extended Performance ($9.16), Castrol Edge Extended Performance ($8.64), Castrol Edge Synthetic ($8.18), Castrol Edge High Mileage ($8.18), Mobil 1 ($7.88), Mobil 1 High Mileage ($7.88), Pennzoil Ultra Platinum ($7.54), Valvoline SynPower ($7.10), Valvoline High Mileage Synthetic ($6.97), Pennzoil Platinum High Mileage ($6.64), Pennzoil Platinum Euro L ($6.43), Pennzoil Platinum ($6.38), Quaker State ($6.32) and private label brands ($5.68).
According to the price tracker, the average price per quart for synthetic motor oil at the five leading auto parts stores in the U.S. was $9.98 in the fourth quarter, up 11.1 percent.
The highest average price per quart for synthetic at the five leading auto parts stores was $11.34 for Mobil 1 EP. It was followed by Pennzoil Platinum High Mileage ($10.75), Mobil 1 High mileage ($10.73), Castrol Edge High Mileage ($10.73), Royal Purple ($10.66), Valvoline High Mileage ($10.63), Castrol Edge Extended ($10.42), Pennzoil Platinum ($10.27), Castrol Edge ($10.07), Mobil 1 ($10.07), Valvoline ($10.07), Quaker State ($8.69), Mobil Super ($8.27), private label high mileage ($7.74), and private label ($6.59).
“We’re seeing a growing population of the lighter grade oils,” Tom Glenn, president of Petroleum Trends International, told Lube Report. “As the industry migrates from the heavier grades to the lighter grades, you’ll see demand for synthetics increase. With that increased demand, there will be increased competition for that share of the wallet.” This increased competition is considered partly responsible for the softening in prices for synthetics, he said.
Glenn noted that as the motor oil industry migrates toward, for example, 0W weight oils, a push and pull situation impacts synthetics. “The ‘pull’ is from the consumers who like the term ‘synthetic’ – it’s meaningful to them from a performance standpoint,” he explained, adding that the ‘push’ is the shift from heavier grades such as 10W to 5W and lighter grades. “That’s increasing the population of synthetics on the shelves since the viscometric and volatility requirements for some of the lighter grades can only be met with the use of synthetics,” Glenn said. “And it’s very apparent when we do our survey, that we’re seeing an increased population of those products.”
He said another emerging trend is the offering of synthetics in various tiers. “If you fast forward where this could end up, synthetics could be ‘conventional’ synthetics and then ‘premium’ top-tier synthetics, and there are price differences that we currently see there.” He noted the survey’s listing of synthetic brand offerings includes those marketed as “top tier” and products considered more “conventional” synthetics.
The average price per quart for conventional, non-synthetic motor oil at the leading big box retailer was up 15.2 percent at $4.24 per quart in the fourth quarter, the tracker found.
The highest average price per quart for conventional motor oil at the leading big box retailer was Castrol at $4.97. It was followed by Pennzoil ($4.88), Valvoline ($4.80), Chevron Supreme ($4.42), Quaker State ($4.24), Havoline ($3.91), Mobil Super ($3.89) and private label ($2.78).
Glenn said the largest big box retailers typically can charge less per motor oil due to their buying power. The largest such retailers can buy in huge volumes that are much larger and different than those purchased by auto parts stores.
“What we do notice, too, is there is very strong parity between auto parts stores on where their prices are,” he said. “So where you do see differences in auto parts stores’ prices is primarily in the promotions. But otherwise if you go from store to store, you see strikingly similar prices at the auto parts stores.”
At the five leading auto parts stores, the average price per quart for conventional motor oil reached $6.43 in the fourth quarter this year, up almost 19 percent.
At the five leading auto parts stores, the highest average price per quart for conventional motor oil was also Castrol at $7.53. Following were Pennzoil ($7.49), Valvoline ($7.33), Quaker State ($6.11), Havoline ($6.09), Mobil Super ($5.53) and private label ($4.51).
The tracker also includes pricing specific to semi synthetic blends and high mileage motor oils.
For more information on the retail lubricant price tracker, visit Petroleum Trends International’s web site:www.petroleumtrends.com