Advances in mobility over the past century have helped to drive global economic growth, transforming countries and lives. Now, fast-growing populations and emerging economies are boosting demand.

And global trends such as urbanisation and internet connectivity are transforming the way people and products move around the world. By 2050, the number of people living in cities could double as the world population passes 9 billion, and the number of cars could double from 1 billion today.

There is a need to improve fuel efficiency and air quality by reducing emissions; both local emissions that cause air pollution in our towns and cities and the carbon dioxide (CO2) that contributes to global climate change. We see a mosaic of fuels and engines developing: some will be suited to short journeys within urban areas, while others could be better for longer journeys between cities.

Shell concept car

Making transport cleaner

The internal combustion engine is likely to power most road transport for many years to come as demand for liquid fuels such as petrol and diesel grows in developing parts of the world.

Smaller, lighter vehicles using more efficient engines, fuels and lubricants will likely deliver the most immediate advances towards lower emissions. To understand this better, lubricant designers from Shell teamed up with automotive designer Gordon Murray and engine expert Osamu Goto to design and co-engineer an ultra-efficient car for the world’s increasingly congested cities.

The Shell concept car, unveiled in April 2016, could use as little as half the energy of a small family car over its lifetime.

Learn more about Project M and the Shell concept car

Natural gas and alternative energies

Natural gas, the cleanest-burning hydrocarbon, could also play an important role in cleaner mobility.

Liquefied natural gas (LNG) in particular is emerging as fuel for ships and trucks. LNG is gas that is chilled to a liquid, which shrinks its volume 600 times, making it easier to store and ship. It is cleaner than diesel and heavy fuel oil because it produces less sulphur, particulates and nitrogen oxides, and can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions from production to use.

Our gas-to-liquids (GTL) process turns natural gas into high-quality liquid products for use in fuels and lubricants. Our GTL Gasoil, for example, burns with lower sulphur dioxide and fewer nitrogen oxides and particulate emissions than conventional oil-based diesel. It can be used to power trucks, buses and taxis.

Trials with Airbus, Qatar Airways and Rolls Royce led to the creation of gas-to-liquids GTL Jet Fuel, which reduces particulate emissions.

Hydrogen and advanced biofuels have the potential to play an important role in the future fuel mix. In Germany and the USA we have refuelling stations for hydrogen fuel cell vehicles – these vehicles produce no exhaust emissions at all. We continue to develop advanced biofuels from non-food plants at our technology centre in Houston USA.  

In the meantime, our biofuels joint venture Raízen in Brazil is one of the world’s largest producers of low-emission ethanol made from sugar cane.

Increasing efficiency together

Shell started developing improved fuel economy formulas as early as the 1920s. We employ more than 300 scientists and engineers around the world dedicated to research and development (R&D) in lubricants and fuels for vehicles, shipping and aircraft.

To develop new fuels and engines for the future requires collaboration between energy suppliers and fuel retailers such as Shell, vehicle manufacturers, consumers, governments and city authorities. We need to work together to improve the fuel efficiency of road, air and sea transport in the future and reduce their CO2 emissions.

We already work closely with some of the biggest vehicle manufacturers including BMW, Chrysler, Daimler, Honda and Hyundai. Our collaborations have led to new engines using our advanced lubricants to reduce friction and achieve better fuel efficiency.

For the past 60 years, we have partnered with Ferrari to develop more efficient fuels and lubricants for its Formula One racing cars. These have led to Shell Helix lubricants and Shell V-Power fuels for motorists.

Shell and Scuderia Ferrari – from racetrack to roadside

Shell Eco-marathon car on track

Inspiring others to save energy

We help drivers go further with less fuel. Our Fuel Save Driver Education Programme helps them to improve their fuel economy by up to 24%. The most efficient commercial drivers can reduce fuel consumption by as much as 30%.

Since 1985, Shell Eco-marathon has challenged students to design, build and drive the most energy-efficient cars, helping raise awareness about the future of mobility and inspire young engineers to rethink ways of using energy.

See the Shell Eco-marathon explained on YouTube

Shell in transport facts

  • Shell has been innovating to help people and goods move around the world for more than a century.
  • We own the largest branded network of retail refuelling stations in the world, with around 43,000 service stations in more than 70 countries.
  • In aviation, Shell refuels an aircraft every 12 seconds and supplies fuel at around 800 airports globally.
  • In shipping, we provide fuels and lubricants to vessels ranging from container ships to fishing boats, serving more than 600 ports around the world.
  • Our petrochemicals plants produce the raw materials that make plastic and synthetic materials, including those used to make vehicles.
  • And, we are the world's largest producer of refined bitumen that surfaces roads and creates safer infrastructure.  

More in energy and innovation

Shell Eco-marathon

Young engineers from around the world hit the track on ultra-efficient cars, helping to drive the future of mobility.


More and cleaner energy

We are using our know-how, technology and innovation to help deliver more and cleaner energy for the world's growing population.

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