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Shell unveils concept city car design ‘to accelerate the conversation about making vehicles more energy efficient and less carbon-intensive’

Shell has today unveiled a three seater concept city car which, if it were ever to go into production, is claimed 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 is claimed to 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

Aggressive downsizing, innovative engine design and lubricant formulation

The Shell Concept Car is a total rethink of the Gordon Murray Design T.25 city car produced in 2010 for which Shell produced a prototype oil to improve the vehicle’s energy efficiency. The new car is the result of a co-engineering collaboration between world leading vehicle, engine and lubricant designers, with each of the three elements of the vehicle tailored to work optimally with each other.

The car uses a process of “co-engineering” whereby vehicle body, engine design and lubricants are all created together.

It achieves 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 showed a steady consumption of 107 miles per gallon (2.64 Litres per 100km, or 38km/Litre or 89.1 miles per gallon US) at 70kmph/45mph and an improvement of 4.67g CO2/km on the New European Driving Cycle (NEDC) from the use of bespoke lubricants, equivalent to a 5% improvement in fuel efficiency compared to standard lubricants available in the UK.

Mark Gainsborough, Executive Vice-President of Shell’s global lubricants businesses which backed the project said, “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.”

Shell’s Lubricants technology team created bespoke engine oil, based on its premium product Shell Helix Ultra with PurePlus Technology.

Optimised three cylinder petrol engine

In parallel, engine guru Osamu Goto’s group at Geo Technology (based in Switzerland) redesigned and optimised many of the internal engine components associated with friction. On the cold portion of the NEDC, CO2 emissions were reduced by 7.1% and on the combined cycle by 5.0%, compared to standard lubricants available in the UK, as a result, according to the press reelase, of co-designing engine and fluids.


Components made using 3D printing and body of recycled carbon fibre

Built around Gordon Murray Design’s patented iStream platform, the Shell Concept Car combines lightweight technology – the car weighs just 550kg – and is built using carefully chosen materials of 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, it is claimed, 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.

The car makes use of a modified version of Shell’s Drive App via a smartphone.

Dr. Andrew Hepher, Vice President, of Shell’s lubricant research team said: “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.”


iStream concept

Gordon Murray’s iStream concept is based on a new production method that uses a fit-for-purpose approach to lightweight material usage and low parts count to achieve an ultra-low vehicle weight. The combined iStream result is an advantageous weight-saving of up to 200kg on a typical supermini.

The concept has been funded in a number of Innovate UK projects, including IDP 6, 7, 11 and IDP 12, announced last month, Carbon Aluminium Automotive Hybrid Structures (CAAHS) BCAST project.


In September 2014 Gordon Murray unveiled the Yamaha MOTIV.e at LCV2014, at Millbrook, Bedfordshire - powered by an electric motor .

Innovate UK first invested in MOTIV.e’s underlying iStream and related technology in 2011 (IDP 11) which formed part of a £9 million investment from its predecessor the T.27.

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