The Shell Concept Car – developed through an initiative known as Project M - is the result of close collaboration between engineers at Shell Lubricants; legendary Formula 1 designer Gordon Murray; and Geo Technology, a specialist automotive firm established by former Honda F1 director Osamu Goto.
As previously reported by The Engineer the project set out to demonstrate that by designing a car from scratch, and employing a “co-engineering” process whereby vehicle body, engine design and lubricants are all created together, it should be possible to achieve huge efficiency savings.
According to Shell, if the new concept car were to go into full production it would use around half of the energy usually required to build and run than a typical small family car.
Based on Gordon Murray Design’s T.25 city car, which was produced in 2010 and built around Murray’s iStream production process, the car weighs 550kg and is with materials that 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. It 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.
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, 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.
According to Shell, independent testing and a life-cycle study shows that the 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. Sample test results include a steady state consumption of 107 miles per gallon at 70kmph/45mph.
The vehicle also performed well in formal NEDC (New European Driving Cycle) emissions tests, producing lower CO2 emissions than both a typical petrol-powered city car (28%) and a hybrid car (32%).
Mark Gainsborough, executive vice-president of Shell’s global lubricants businesses said, “This is a significant automobile engineering milestone. 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. 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.”