Shell Satrship Truck Completes Cross-Country Journey, Proves Fuel Economy Findings

by Jake Tully - Published: 6/05/2018

Earlier in May of this year, Shell Lubricants and AirFlow Truck Company completed a test drive of the Starship Initiative truck, traveling more than 2,300 miles across the southern region of the United States.

According to Shell Lubricants, this trip is the first time that a prototype Class 8 vehicle has driven coast-to-coast across the country facing conditions that a more traditional commercial truck may face, all the while traversing roads as a tropical storm approached.

"Our goal with the Starship Initiative is to challenge how the trucking industry is defined and to further the conversation by working with AirFlow Truck Company and others," said Technology Manager for Innovation, Shell Lubricants Robert Mainwaring. "Through this road trip, we were able to test the Starship truck along with a number of technologies available today to provide insight into what trucking fleets and owner/operators could consider adopting to help reduce fuel use and emissions as they haul heavy loads. This includes optimized aerodynamics, drivetrain and operational efficiencies, and low viscosity lubricants."

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According to Shell, the cross-country trip for the vehicle saw 178.4 ton-miles per gallon in terms of freight ton efficiency, an improvement of over 248 percent over average freight ton efficiency of 72 ton-miles per gallon.

Shell reports that the final weight of the truck and cargo was nearly 73,000 pounds, close to 28% heavier than the average total gross vehicle weight of 57,000 pounds for the average Class 8 truck running in North America.

With an end average of 8.94 miles per gallon, the vehicle maintained 2.5% better fuel economy than other vehicles as well as showing a reduction in CO2 emissions overall.

"The Shell team didn't take the easy road to trying to achieve the best results they could with their first drive with the truck," said Executive Director, North American Council for Freight Efficiency Miek Roeth. "They knew they wanted to make the truck run, but they went a step further. They carried a much heavier load than many average truckers on the road carry, traveled a longer route in an uncontrolled environment with a variety of technologies not tested in these real-world conditions. For us, it was a rewarding opportunity to see the truck move from an idea on paper to traveling with the team on the road to help verify the run results."

Shell reports that more findings of the test run across the country can be find at their site, as well as other upcoming advances in fuel economy technology.