Shell Rotella Starship concept tractor-trailer nears completion

3 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineSeptember 26, 2017

Shell Lubricants and AirFlow Truck Company are developing a new hyper-fuel mileage Class 8 tractor-trailer. This next-generation concept truck, nicknamed Starship, will feature a custom, aerodynamic design and seek to demonstrate improvements in fuel economy for class 8 trucks while lowering CO2 emissions.

Reminiscent of the Nikola One, the Starship tractor and trailer will have custom designed side skirts, hood, front end and interior. When completed in early 2018, the truck will be run cross-country as it seeks to demonstrate improvements in fuel economy for class 8 trucks over existing on-highway trucks.

It will feature a carbon fibre cab, and will have a Cummins X15 engine paired with a specially specced Eaton transmission. The truck will run on diesel.

Shell says the transportation industry is dynamic and they intend to stay at the forefront of innovation – collaborating with companies like AirFlow and other suppliers to develop creative solutions that will benefit the industry for years to come.

The pursuit of significant fuel economy gains for class 8 trucks and trailers is a challenging process given the size and traditional construction of a tractor and trailer. With new fuel economy regulations on the horizon and the need for continuing advances in fuel economy, Shell Lubricants recognises that a holistic approach to making fuel economy gains is important. This includes advances in engine and drivetrain technology, the use of low viscosity synthetic lubricants, aerodynamic designs, efficient driving methods and more.

Shell‘s relationship with the AirFlow Truck Company is part of a collaborative process of working with others to design hardware and fluids with the goal of improving fuel economy and other efficiencies. The Shell Lubricants team is providing technical consultation on engine and drivetrain components and recommendations for lubricant needs for use in the Starship truck.

Shell say this technical alliance and the opportunity to work closely on the development of the next generation AirFlow truck is exciting.

“Having the ability to test some of our newest engine oils in a cutting-edge vehicle will provide us with some valuable information as we create lower viscosity engine oils without sacrificing performance,” they say.

The AirFlow Truck Company has built two previous aerodynamic and fuel-efficient Class 8 tractor-trailers, the first in 1983 and the most recent in 2012. The most recent rig, dubbed the Bullet Truck, ran coast-to-coast hauling freight at 65,000 lb (29,483.5 kg) gross vehicle weight and averaged a record 13.4 mpg (5.69 kpl).