Photo: Neil Abt/Fleet Owner

Shell unveils Starship Project truck

March 6, 2018
Company officials stress focus on freight-ton efficiency, plans nationwide tour of aerodynamic Class 8 truck.

ATLANTA. Shell unveiled its Starship Project truck that company executives said uses currently available technologies to minimize the amount of energy required to transport freight.

The Class 8 truck, built in conjunction with AirFlow Truck Co., was on display in the exhibit hall at the Technology & Maintenance Council’s annual meeting.

The aerodynamic tractor is made of carbon fiber, and features a wrap-around windshield designed specifically for the truck. The trailer includes side skirts to reduce drag and a 5,000-watt solar array on top of the trailer.

The truck is powered by a 2017 Cummins X15 engine with Shell Rotella T6 Ultra 5W-30, a low viscosity FA-4 oil. It also features a suite of safety technologies including stability control and disc brakes.

Dan Arcy, OEM technical manager at Shell Global Solutions, said the company believes freight-ton efficiency is a better measurement than miles per gallon when factoring in total energy usage by trucks. That figure better accounts for carrying heavier loads with the same amount of fuel, he said.

Arcy and Megan Pino, global brand manager for Shell Rotella, said the Starship Project is critical because energy production and energy security will continue to be challenges as the global population grows, especially in urban areas. Freight transportation is responsible for about 35% of total energy usage.  

“The transportation industry is constantly changing, and our goal is to be at the forefront of innovation by collaborating with companies like AirFlow and others to develop creative solutions that provide benefits for years to come,” said Bob Mainwaring, technology manager for innovation at Shell Lubricants.

The Starship Project will undertake a cross-country run in May that will begin in California and end in Florida carrying a real load of cargo, with efficiency results being verified along the way by the North American Council for Freight Efficiency (NACFE). Prior to that run it will also be on display at various trucking and company events.

The truck was driven to Atlanta from South Carolina.

About the Author

Neil Abt

Neil Abt, editorial director at Fleet Owner, is a veteran journalist with over 20 years of reporting experience, including 15 years spent covering the trucking industry. A graduate of American University in Washington, D.C., he began his career covering sports for The Washington Post newspaper, followed by a position in the newsroom of America Online (AOL) and then both reporting and leadership roles at Transport Topics. Abt is based out of Portland, Oregon.

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