The Shell Airflow Starship is a carbon-fiber-bodied, diesel powered semi truck with a goal: to be the most fuel efficient big rig in the game.
Shell and the North American Council for Freight Efficiency (NACFE) have come together in hopes of learning more about maximizing freight efficiency. In an attempt to blast freight-ton fuel economy records, they came up with a project.
On May 17, 2018, trucker and co-developer Bob Sliwa departed from San Diego, California and headed to Jacksonville, Florida with 50,000 pounds of cargo.
His semi, the Shell Airflow Starship, was previously on display at the Shell Make the Future California event at Sonoma Raceway.
The truck’s 48-volt battery pack helps the engine, which is supported by a 12-volt super capacitor. An inverter powers regular accessories such as the wipers and LED lights. There is no conventional battery on this semi. The Starship has is a solar array on the roof of the truck’s 53 foot trailer that charges the batteries that power the air-conditioning and other electrical loads.
Stretched axle ratios keep the engine speed as low as 800 rpm on the highway. The electric axle helps apply torque when going up hills. The 18 speed automated manual transmission has a custom-calibrated control module that is optimized to provide the best fuel efficiency.
The truck also has a custom automatic tire inflation system so that tire pressure is always optimized. The Starship boasts forward-collision warning and electronic stability control. There is also a custom designed digital instrument cluster that will allow Sliwa to keep track of all the systems.
As reported by Digital Journal, Sliwa set a record in 2012 after driving a Bullet truck coast to coast. He achieved 13.5 miles per gallon while hauling 65,000 pounds.
This week, he hopes to set another record.