Shell Lubricants Starship

[London, United Kingdom] – Shell and AirFlow Truck Company today announce the successful completion and the results from the U.S. coast-to-coast run, attaining 178.4 tonne-miles per gallon [68.9 tonne-kilometres per litre] in freight tonne efficiency (FTE) 1 – a 2.5 times improvement on the North American average of 72 tonne-miles per gallon2 [27.8 tonne-kilometres per litre]. Freight ton efficiency is considered a more relevant statistic for judging the energy intensity associated with moving cargo from point A to point B since it combines the weight of cargo being moved with the amount of fuel consumed. The U.S benchmark figures are in the middle ground when compared to the average figures for Asia and Europe3.

This journey marks the first time that a prototype Class 8 truck 4 has driven coast-to-coast across the U.S, travelling over 3,700 kilometres (2,300 miles) in real-world trucking operations and in real-world conditions, including unplanned stops and torrential rains.

In addition, the Starship’s total average fuel economy stood at 8.94 US miles per gallon [3.8 kilometres per litre], beating the U.S. average of 6.4 US miles per gallon5 [2.7 kilometres per litre. The best fuel economy attained during the drive was 10.2 US miles per gallon [4.2 kilometres per litre].

It was also estimated that if all two million trucks in the U.S.6, reached the overall fuel economy and freight tonne efficiency performance of Starship, there would be 229 million less tonnes of CO2 emissions each year7.

These measurements were verified by an independent third party, the North American Council for Freight Efficiency, using an onboard telematics system. The results are timely, as the global trucking sector seeks to “go further with less”; to reduce fuel consumption while maximising load to lower costs and to meet fuel economy regulations.

The final total truck and cargo weight was about 33,112 kilogrammes (73,000 pounds8) with a payload weight of 18,098 kilogrammes (39,900 pounds9). This was comprised of clean reef material destined for new offshore reef installation in Florida.

“We are proud that the Starship Truck was able to complete the coast-to-coast run in real-world trucking operations and conditions, including torrential rains. Our goal with this initiative is to challenge how the trucking industry defines trucking efficiency and further discussions with AirFlow Truck Company and other manufacturers,” said Robert Mainwaring, Technology Manager for Innovation, Shell Lubricants.

“Through this road trip, we tested the Starship truck, using technologies available today, to provide insight into how trucking fleets and owner/operators could reduce fuel use and emissions as they haul heavy loads. This includes optimised aerodynamics, drivetrain and operational efficiencies, and low viscosity lubricants,” he added.

“The Shell team didn’t take the easy road to trying to achieve the best results they could with their first drive with the truck,” commented Mike Roeth, Executive Director, North American Council for Freight Efficiency. “They knew they wanted to make the truck run, but they went further. They carried a much heavier load than many average truckers on the road carry, travelled a longer route in an uncontrolled environment with a variety of technologies not tested in these real-world conditions. For us, it was a rewarding opportunity to see the truck move from an idea on paper, and to have travelled with the team on the road to help verify the run results.”

“These and other learnings are far from the final results, it is simply the start of our ongoing learning,” added Mainwaring. “We’ll move forward to apply learnings from this test run and implement additional technologies on the truck for future testing. While it would be easy to say the Starship Initiative has been very successful, we know there is more we can do to continue to drive industry dialogue in the future.”

The strong freight tonne efficiency result is attributed to a combination of Shell lubricants technology, enhanced aerodynamics – including customised carbon fibre cab and full side skirts along the length of the trailer – Cummins X-15 efficiency engine, low rolling resistance tyres and a smart driving strategy. The vehicle was lubricated by a Shell low viscosity, fully synthetic heavy-duty engine oil which provides protection against wear, deposits and oil breakdown as well as Shell transmission oils, differential oils and wheel hub oils. The engine oil technology shares the same viscosity as Shell Rimula Ultra E+ and is being tested by OEMs around the world.

The Starship initiative is just one step in the journey required to meet the world’s global energy challenge – a journey that will benefit the transport sector directly whilst being of value to the wider environment. To stay up-to-date on the latest Starship activities, visit Starship - Hyper-Fuel Efficient Truck

1 Freight tonne efficiency is calculated by dividing the distance travelled by amount of fuel consumed and multiplying the resulting figure by the weight of the cargo.
2 NACFE Run on Less Report page 34
3 Based on data and research by International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT):
4 A Class 8 truck is a heavy-duty truck as classified by the U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Highway Administration
NACFE Run on Less Report page 34
Trucking Statistics from
7 Reductions in CO2 emissions per year calculated if all trucks in the U.S. operated at the same FTE as Starship, with the scale of the fleet reduced to balance the increased loading. CO2 emissions refer to those emitted from the combustion of diesel fuel alone with a standard emission rate of 22.4lbs of CO2 per US gallon of diesel fuel. 
8 Total truck and cargo weight is 18 per cent heavier than the than the average total gross vehicle weight of 57,000 pounds (25,855 kgs) for a U.S. on-highway Class 8 truck (EPA NHTSA GHG Rule)
9 This is 60 per cent more mass than the U.S. average payload of 22,500 lbs (10,206 kgs), Source: North American Council For Freight Efficiency data and reports)

Find out more about Freight Tonne Efficiency here

Starship Freight Tonne Efficiency


Shell International Media Relations:
International +44 207 934 5550

Shell Lubricants Global:
Mary B. Walsh, +32478402938,
Yashidha Kumari, +65 6390 7345

Notes to Editors

  • The Coast to Coast Demonstration Drive of the Starship Truck began in San Diego, California and end in Jacksonville, Florida and ran from 18 May 2018 to 24 May 2018. The drive covered 3,700 kilometres (2,300 miles). The route is known as the known as the Christopher Columbus Transcontinental Highway and is the fourth-longest Interstate Highway in the United States. It is the southernmost cross-country interstate highway in the American Interstate Highway System. The drive stopped along the way to discuss with local American truckers and others on what’s possible in reducing costs, emissions and increasing efficiency. 
  • The North American Council for Freight Efficiency ( is an unbiased and fuel agnostic organisation that works to drive the development and adoption of efficiency-enhancing, environmentally beneficial, and cost-effective technologies, services and methodologies in the North American freight industry. The parameters measured by NACFE included 1) Distance 2) Fuel consumption 3) Weight 4) Elevation change 5) Ambient Temperature and 6) Wind speed and direction.
    • The truck served a worthy cause with its cargo as it was loaded with clean reef material that the Coastal Conservation Association. This material will use to build an artificial reef off the coast of Florida. The Coastal Conservation Association (CCA) is an American non-profit organisation, its purpose is to advise and educate the public on conversations about marine resources. Shell is a corporate partner with the Coastal Conservation Association (CCA).

About Shell Lubricants

Shell Lubricants produces and sells a wide range of lubricants catered to a wide range of customers in 120 countries – from consumers to business customers. We produce lubricants used in sectors such as consumer motoring, heavy duty transport, mining, power generation, general manufacturing, etc. Our brands include Pennzoil, Quaker State, Shell Helix, Shell Advance, Shell Rotella and Shell Rimula, Shell Tellus and Shell Gadus. Our robust supply chain allows us to bring our products to customers globally. This includes five base oil plants, 40 lubricants blending (and packaging) plants and 10 grease production plant across the globe, in 32 countries around the world.

Shell’s strong heritage in technology for lubricants traces back to more than 70 years. We have over 200 scientists and engineers that work in specialised technical centres for lubricants in China, Japan, Germany and the US. We hold over 150 patents for base oils, lubricants and greases and carry out millions of trials every year. Our partnerships with OEMs helps us to continue to work on producing high quality lubricants. We also work with top motorsports teams like Scuderia Ferrari, BMW Motorsport, Hyundai Motorsport and Ducati Corse to use racing as a test bed to bring race quality lubricants to customers on the road. We also offer a wide range of technical services to our customers, namely Shell LubeMatch, Shell LubeAdvisor and Shell LubeChat.

For more information, logon to

About Royal Dutch Shell

Royal Dutch Shell plc is incorporated in England and Wales, has its headquarters in The Hague and is listed on the London, Amsterdam, and New York stock exchanges. Shell companies have operations in more than 70 countries and territories with businesses including oil and gas exploration and production; production and marketing of liquefied natural gas and gas to liquids; manufacturing, marketing and shipping of oil products and chemicals and renewable energy projects. For further information, visit

AirFlow Truck Company

AirFlow Truck Company has built two previous aerodynamic and fuel-efficient Class 8 tractor trailers, the first in 1983 and the most recent in 2012. 

Cautionary note

The companies in which Royal Dutch Shell plc directly and indirectly owns investments are separate legal entities. In this announcement “Shell”, “Shell group” and “Royal Dutch Shell” are sometimes used for convenience where references are made to Royal Dutch Shell plc and its subsidiaries in general. Likewise, the words “we”, “us” and “our” are also used to refer to subsidiaries in general or to those who work for them. These expressions are also used where no useful purpose is served by identifying the particular company or companies. ‘‘Subsidiaries’’, “Shell subsidiaries” and “Shell companies” as used in this announcement refer to companies over which Royal Dutch Shell plc either directly or indirectly has control. Entities and unincorporated arrangements over which Shell has joint control are generally referred to as “joint ventures” and “joint operations” respectively. Entities over which Shell has significant influence but neither control nor joint control are referred to as “associates”. The term “Shell interest” is used for convenience to indicate the direct and/or indirect ownership interest held by Shell in a venture, partnership or company, after exclusion of all third-party interest.

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