Shell Airflow Starship Semi Truck Completes Extremely Efficient Cross-Country Test Drive

It was designed to be a more fuel-efficient cargo truck and has proven itself as such by more than doubling the standard ton-miles per gallon rate.

Shell

A new Shell truck specifically designed to optimize energy showed a 248 percent improvement in freight ton efficiency over the average cargo truck, according to a release from Shell.

Ending in Jacksonville, Florida, Shell Lubricants and AirFlow Truck Company completed a cross-country test drive for a Starship Initiative, a hyper fuel-efficient Class 8 tractor trailer. The Starship began its journey in San Diego, California in mid-May.

“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 Robert Mainwaring, technology manager for innovation at Shell Lubricants, in a statement.

The Starship achieved 178.4 ton-miles per gallon for freight ton efficiency while the average North American freight ton efficiency is 72 ton-miles per gallon. Freight ton efficiency was used since it combines the weight of cargo being moved with the amount of fuel consumed.

The final total truck cargo weight was close to 73,000 pounds, 28 percent heavier than the average total gross vehicle weight of 57,000 pounds for an on-highway Class 8 truck. The truck delivered clean reef material for an offshore reef installation in Florida.

A design change from traditional cargo trucks that makes the Starship so much more fuel efficient is the cab’s bespoke shape. Such a design can help a vehicle to cut through the wind and reduce air drag which always plays a role in fuel usage.

The Starship’s diesel engine uses a grille for cooling which has actively controlled shutters. The truck also sports a hybrid-electric axel system and a 5,000-watt solar array.