Shell presents ultra efficient concept car

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Shell has unveiled a concept city car which, it claims if it were ever to go into production, could deliver material reductions in energy use in the road transport sector. The three-seater car uses a process of ‘co-engineering’ whereby vehicle body, engine design and lubricants are all created together.

Independent testing and a rigorous lifecycle study shows that Shell’s Concept Car would deliver a 34% reduction in primary energy use over its entire lifecycle when compared to a typical city car available in the UK. The Shell Concept Car would use around half the energy required to build and run than a typical small family car available in the UK and 69% less than that of a typical sports utility vehicle available in the UK

The Shell Concept Car is based on the Gordon Murray Design T.25 city car of 2010, for which Shell produced a prototype oil to improve the vehicle’s energy efficiency. The redesigned car takes a holistic view on energy reduction, focusing on design material selection, reduced energy demand via aggressive downsizing, and streamlining while enhancing the efficiency of energy delivery through innovative engine design and lubricant formulation to minimise the impact in terms of overall energy lifecycle use.

The car’s gasoline consumption has been measured using a range of vehicle testing protocols covering both steady state and urban driving styles. Sample test results include a steady state consumption of 107mpg [2.64 liters per 100km] [38km/liters] [89.1mpg US] at 70km/h/45mph and an improvement of 4.67g CO₂/km on the New European Driving Cycle (NEDC).

“This is a significant automobile engineering milestone,” commented Mark Gainsborough, executive vice-president of Shell’s global lubricants businesses. “I’m very proud of what Shell’s scientists and their partners at Geo Technology and Gordon Murray Design have achieved. Insights gained from this project could be transformational in terms of how we address energy use in the road transport sector. Energy use and climate change are major issues for society. This project shows that if we use the best of today’s technology, including cutting edge lubricants science, we could potentially have a major impact on energy use and reduce CO₂ emissions. The improvement in economy derived from the collaborative design of engine and lubricant is impressive and highlights the enormous benefits achieved from close relationships between design partners. It also shows the powerful role that lubricants can potentially play in helping achieve CO₂ reduction targets.”

The Shell Concept Car was independently tested at a UK-certified automotive testing facility alongside a range of other cars under comparable conditions to measure fuel economy and CO₂ emissions. In the formal NEDC test the Shell Concept Car produced lower CO₂ emissions than both a typical petrol-powered city car (28%) and a hybrid car (32%).

Shell provided all the fluids for the car, specially ‘designing’ the motor oil to complement and enhance the overall efficiency of the vehicle, principally by minimizing friction. Shell’s Lubricants technology team created bespoke engine oil, based on its premium product Shell Helix Ultra with PurePlus Technology, but with a viscosity grade of 0W-12.

The prototype Shell Helix Ultra motor oil designed for the Shell Concept Car helped enhance fuel economy by 5% (NEDC), and up to 7.1% (NEDC) in cold-start city driving. This is a considerable improvement over currently available fuel economy motor oils[8] and highlights the value of co-designing the engine and lubricants. For comparison, the latest 0W-20 oils on the market would typically deliver around 1.4-3% improvement.

These improvements were achieved in part by a redesigned three cylinder petrol engine. Osamu Goto’s group at Geo Technology worked on reducing friction within the unit, a move Shell says highlights the benefits of developing engine and lubricants together.

Built around Gordon Murray Design’s patented iStream platform, the Shell Concept Car represents a radical rethink on the way in which cars are designed, developed and produced. It combines cutting-edge lightweight technology – the car weighs just 550kg – and is built using carefully chosen materials which have a low energy and CO₂ footprint. A number of the car’s components were created using 3D printing to accelerate the construction of this prototype vehicle. The car also uses recycled carbon fibre for its body that can be assembled for a quarter of the price of a conventional steel car and almost the entire car can be recycled at the end of its life.

“Our car may be small, but it’s packed with potential,” added Dr Andrew Hepher, vice president of Shell’s lubricant research team. “We want to accelerate the conversation about how we make road vehicles more energy efficient and less carbon-intensive. In the coming weeks and months, we look forward to sharing our research insights from this project with engine designers, car manufacturers, academics and other experts across the automotive sector.”

April 22, 2016

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Dean has been with UKi Media & Events for over a decade, having previously cut his journalistic teeth writing and editing for various automotive and engineering titles. He combines extensive knowledge of all things automotive with a passion for driving, and experience testing countless new vehicles, engines and technologies around the world. As well as his role as editor-in-chief across a range of UKi's media titles, he is also co-chair of the judging panel of the International Engine + Powertrain of the Year Awards.

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