Shell Concept Car-01

Shell has unveiled a concept city car which, if it were ever to go into production, would deliver a 34% reduction in primary energy use over its entire lifecycle when compared with a typical city car in the UK. It would use around half the energy required to build and run than a typical small family car, and 69% less than that of a typical SUV, it is claimed.

The oil company says that the high-roofed, three-seater is tangible proof of energy efficiency improvements that can be achieved by using technology available today through a process of “co-engineering” whereby vehicle body, engine design and lubricants are all created together.

Looks familiar? The Shell Concept Car is a rethink of the Gordon Murray Design T.25 city car produced in 2010 for which Shell produced a prototype oil to improve the car’s energy efficiency. Underpinned by GMD’s patented iStream platform, the car weighs just 550 kg.

It 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. Murray, a celebrated Formula 1 car designer and the man behind the McLaren F1, used his experience to create a light but crashworthy car.

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 minimising friction.

In parallel, engine guru Osamu Goto’s group at Geo Technology optimised the three-cylinder petrol engine by re-designing and optimising many of the internal engine components associated with friction. On the cold portion of the NEDC, the Shell fluids reduced CO2 emissions by 7.1% and on the combined cycle by 5.0%, compared to standard lubes, highlighting the value of co-designing engine and fluids.

The car’s fuel consumption has been measured using a range of test protocols covering both steady state and urban driving. Sample results include steady state consumption of 38 km/l at 70 km/h and an improvement of 4.67 g CO2/km on the New European Driving Cycle from the use of bespoke lubricants, equivalent to a 5% improvement in fuel efficiency compared to standard lubes. It produces lower CO2 emissions than both a typical petrol-powered city car (28%) and a hybrid car (32%), the makers say.

The car also makes use of a modified version of Shell’s Drive App via a smartphone. This app provides the driver with real time feedback via an on-screen graphic which emphasises the fact that fuel consumption is highly dependent on driver’s right foot.

“Our car may be small, but it’s packed with potential. 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,” said Dr. Andrew Hepher, VP of Shell’s lubricant research team.