Shell concept car and Gordon Murray, Bob Mainwaring and Hidehito Ikebe
Fun fact: The three parties famously collaborated in 1988 on Ayrton Senna’s and Alain Prost’s Honda™-powered, Shell-fuelled, McLaren Formula 1® race cars that won all but one Grand Prix that season – a record that still stands

How do we balance growing transport energy demand with the need to transition to a lower carbon energy future?

Our solution is to collaborate and innovate, making the most of our existing technologies, improving energy efficiency and reducing the impact on our environment.

Our mission for the Shell Concept Car was to jointly design, test and build an energy-efficient concept city car. This car had to be affordable, accessible and capable of reducing personal transport energy use in a material way. All this was to be achieved using advanced technologies available today.

Shell has brought together Geo Technology and Gordon Murray Design in order to achieve collectively what neither group could achieve apart.

Small but packed with potential

The three-seat Shell Concept Car runs on petrol, weighs only 550kgs (1,212lbs) and uses a third (34%) less energy over its entire lifetime compared to a typical petrol-powered city car.

You could build and drive the Shell Concept Car for more than 100,000km and still use less energy than it takes to manufacture and deliver a typical SUV available in the UK into a showroom. In the formal New European Driving Cycle (NEDC) fuel-efficiency test, the Shell Concept Car produced lower CO2 emissions than both a typical petrol-powered city car (28%) and a hybrid car (32%).

It has already completed 3,000 miles (4,800km) on test tracks and rolling roads where it achieved 107 miles per gallon, 2.64 litres per 100km, 38km/litres or 89.1 miles per gallon US at 45mph/70kmph.

Shell is not intending to take this car into commercial production. Instead, we alongside our partners, see it as a conversation starter: a way to accelerate the dialogue about how we make road vehicles more energy efficient and less carbon-intensive. 

Vehicle design

shell concept car dashboard

Built around Gordon Murray Design’s patented iStream® platform, the Shell Concept Car represents a radical rethink on the way in which cars are designed, developed and produced. It combines cutting-edge lightweight technology and is built using carefully chosen materials which have a low energy and CO2 footprint. The car’s body is made with recycled carbon fibre helping to keep its weight low at 550kgs (1,212lbs). Gordon Murray’s experiences in Formula 1® racing have been used to develop the car, particularly its safety and weight.

Engine optimisation

Shell concept car engine

Geo Technology optimised an internal combustion engine made by Mitsubishi by redesigning internal components associated with friction. The pistons were redesigned to reduce weight and friction, while the valve train components were coated with diamond-like carbon (DTC) to help minimise resistance and reduce wear.

The engine optimisation by Geo Technology and bespoke lubricant developed by Shell together reduced engine friction by 30%.

Fluid technology

shell concept car profile helix

Shell provided all the fluids for the car, including specially-designed motor oil to complement the overall efficiency of the vehicle, principally by minimising friction. Shell’s Lubricants technology team created bespoke engine oil, based on its premium product - Shell Helix Ultra with PurePlus Technology.  It delivered an additional 5% fuel economy and reduced CO2 emissions by 5% (NEDC combined cycle test).

Shell also provided the transmissions fluid (Shell Spirax), greases (Shell Gadus) and the petrol/ gasoline  (Shell FuelSave). 

More in energy and innovation

Meet the team

Project M is all about collaboration. Shell is working with two innovative collaborators, Gordon Murray Design and Geo Technology, to co-engineer the design and build a concept city car.

Image Library

High quality photos of the Shell Conept Car.
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