With all the focus on hybrid and all-electric vehicles, you might think fossil fuels have had their day. Shell begs to differ. The oil giant just announced the design model and fuel consumption test results of The Shell Concept Car, as reported in Car Dealer Magazine. The car is a collaboration of streamlined body design, custom low-friction engine design, and specialized lubricants, all with the aim of reducing fuel consumption. The Shell concept may never be produced, but in addition to a relatively low carbon footprint, it shows the oil companies aren’t just passively watching alternate fuel technologies get all the attention.
Shell worked with Gordon Murray Design on the body of the three-seat Concept Car and with Geo Technology on the three-cylinder gasoline engine design. The greatest engine design focus was to minimize friction between any moving parts — which means most of them. Shell customized lubricants for the low friction engine, just as it had previously designed a lubricant for Gordon Murray Design’s T.25 city car in 2010.
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Weighing just over 1,200 pounds, the vehicle is small enough to fit on top of a ping pong table. The Shell Concept Car is a three-seater (driver in front, two passengers in back) intended primarily for city use. The vehicle’s flip-up front allows passenger and driver access. Previously referred to as “Project M”, The Shell Concept Car has its own website with design specifications and the full story of the three-way collaboration.
The car isn’t just a design exercise. Shell stated that it would achieve a 34 percent reduction in energy use during its lifespan, compared to city cars typically driven in the U.K., where it was introduced. In sustained speed fuel consumption tests, the three-seater measured 89 mpg at 70 mph and 107 mpg at 45 mph.
There’s a theme of threes with The Shell Concept Car — three collaborators, three seats, and three cylinders. While this particular car isn’t intended for production, it’s a clear message that the oil industry is investing in continuing design improvements to enable petroleum-powered engines to stay in the game.