Shell’s futuristic concept truck to make coast-to-coast run next year

Shell Lubricants recently announced that they plan to take their next-generation “Starship” truck and trailer on a cross country efficiency run early next year.

Shell recently announced plans to take the “Starship 2.0” hyper-fuel efficient class 8 truck on a coast-to-coast journey in early 2021.

Shell has released few details about the Starship 2.0, but they say that “the official 2021 efficiency run will build on key takeaways from the initial program in 2018 & introduce new, innovative technologies.”

The initial Starship run occurred in May 2018 with a 2,300 mile run from San Diego to Jacksonville, Florida. During that run, Shell says that the Starship attained 178.4 ton-miles per gallon, nearly a 2.5 times improvement over the North America average freight ton efficiency of 72 ton-miles per gallon for trucks.

The Starship truck’s total average fuel economy was 8.94 miles per gallon, compared to the average U.S. fuel economy for transport trucks at 6.4 miles per gallon.  The best fuel economy attained during the drive was 10.2 miles per gallon, according to Shell.

Aerodynamic features for the original Starship include:

  • Cab is a bespoke hyper-aerodynamic design, fabricated of 100% carbon fiber.
  • Active grill shutters (active based on temperature to maximize aerodynamics and maximize efficiency) when open, enable air to ow through the radiator and into the engine compartment, allowing cooling. When cooling isn’t needed, the shutters are automatically closed, leaving the air to reroute around the vehicle. The result is less aerodynamic drag and reduced fuel consumption. An added bene t of active shutters is the reduced cold-weather engine warm up time.
  • Boat tail: aerodynamic tail to make the truck streamlined and reduce drag. Elongated side panels maintain air ow with the long side skirts that reduce rear end drag.

Efficiency features for the original Starship include:

  • Hybrid electric axle system: electric motor and axle replacing the rear tractor non-driven axle. This provides a power boost while climbing grades, where the most fuel is consumed per mile. The hybrid axle uses regenerative braking to charge the battery pack by capturing energy while decelerating or while descending a grade.
  • Automatic tire inflation system ensures consistent tire pressure for optimal fuel economy.
  • A downspeed axle configuration using advanced engine controls and automated manual transmission provides improved ef ciency as well as good pulling power.
  • 5,000 watt solar array on the trailer roof charges the main 48 volt battery bank on the tractor. The battery bank powers the cab air conditioning, and inverter for the 120 volt hotel loads. When down-converted to 12 volts by a cab mounted DC-to-DC converter, it will power the normal truck loads, such as lights, wipers, blower motors, gauges, and other electrical components.