• ITVI.USA
    13,670.690
    -217.880
    -1.6%
  • OTRI.USA
    22.060
    -0.040
    -0.2%
  • OTVI.USA
    13,638.790
    -223.800
    -1.6%
  • TLT.USA
    2.800
    0.000
    0%
  • TSTOPVRPM.ATLPHL
    2.480
    -0.170
    -6.4%
  • TSTOPVRPM.CHIATL
    3.070
    -0.210
    -6.4%
  • TSTOPVRPM.DALLAX
    1.370
    -0.090
    -6.2%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXDAL
    2.280
    -0.210
    -8.4%
  • TSTOPVRPM.PHLCHI
    1.900
    -0.070
    -3.6%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXSEA
    2.720
    -0.270
    -9%
  • WAIT.USA
    127.000
    0.000
    0%
  • ITVI.USA
    13,670.690
    -217.880
    -1.6%
  • OTRI.USA
    22.060
    -0.040
    -0.2%
  • OTVI.USA
    13,638.790
    -223.800
    -1.6%
  • TLT.USA
    2.800
    0.000
    0%
  • TSTOPVRPM.ATLPHL
    2.480
    -0.170
    -6.4%
  • TSTOPVRPM.CHIATL
    3.070
    -0.210
    -6.4%
  • TSTOPVRPM.DALLAX
    1.370
    -0.090
    -6.2%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXDAL
    2.280
    -0.210
    -8.4%
  • TSTOPVRPM.PHLCHI
    1.900
    -0.070
    -3.6%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXSEA
    2.720
    -0.270
    -9%
  • WAIT.USA
    127.000
    0.000
    0%
NewsTechnologyTrucking

Shell Starship tractor-trailer ready for 2021 relaunch

Concept truck has been updated with new technologies as plans for a second cross-country trip are finalized

Shell Lubricants announced on Wednesday that its concept tractor-trailer combination, the Starship, has been updated and will complete a second cross-country run in early 2021.

Dubbed Starship 2.0, the truck will build upon the initial cross-country run conducted in 2018, which saw the Class 8 combination unit achieve an 8.94 miles per gallon average fuel economy and reach 178.4 ton-miles per gallon in freight ton efficiency, as measured by the North American Council for Freight Efficiency (NACFE). Freight ton efficiency is a combination of the amount of fuel used and the weight of the cargo being moved from point A to point B to measure a vehicle’s energy intensity and is considered by some to be a more accurate representation of a vehicle’s energy performance.

Shell has not released any details of Starship 2.0’s technology upgrades or specific details on the cross-country run. The 2018 run covered approximately 2,300 miles, starting in San Diego and ending in Jacksonville, Florida. The vehicle hauled reef weighing 39,900 pounds for a barrier reef project off the coast of Florida on that run.

In 2019, Megan Pino, Shell Rotella global brand manager, told FreightWaves Shell was updating the vehicle, which Shell now owns. At that time, the upgrades she mentioned included a possible hybrid-electric axle, which was part of the original design plan but not included due to time constraints. Other updates to the electronics to help systems work more in unison were likely as well, Pino said.

The original truck was built in collaboration with AirFlow Truck Co. and designed with super sleek aerodynamic panels made of carbon fiber and featured a full suite of advanced technologies.

The tractor included a Cummins X15 engine with 6X2 configuration and a 2.5 ratio. The 6-cylinder engine produced 400 horsepower and 1,850 foot-pounds of torque. The vehicle has both a downsped axle and engine to reduce fuel usage and auto tire inflation system.

For safety, the vehicle included both front and side radar and stability control. A 5,000-watt solar array atop the trailer provided energy through a 48-volt battery pack to power interior accessories and reduce the energy load.

The body of the Starship tractor is a bespoke aerodynamic design made of carbon fiber. This includes the side skirts, hood and front end. A custom Department of Transportation (DOT)-approved wraparound windshield was designed specifically for the truck.

An “active front grille” opens and closes to allow in air as needed.

The Cummins engine runs on Shell Rotella T6 Ultra 5W-30 oil, which is a low viscosity API FA-4 engine oil that has been formulated to provide better fuel economy, improved high- and low-temperature performance, and meets the requirements for many low emissions engines. Additional low viscosity full synthetic oils are used throughout the vehicle, including Spirax S6 GXME 75W-80 transmission oil, Spirax S5 ADE 75W-80 differential oil and Spirax S6 GME 40 wheel hub oil. In addition, Shell Rotella Extended Life Coolant provides excellent high-temperature protection and heat transfer. Shell Rotella Diesel Exhaust Fluid, a high purity diesel exhaust fluid, is also used on the truck. 

It is unclear if all the original specs are in the updated Starship 2.0.

The truck is based on a 1987 design by Bob Sliwa, president of Newington, Connecticut-based AirFlow. Sliwa worked with Shell on the original Starship, but Shell has since acquired the rights to the vehicle and made the recent updates themselves.

Click for more FreightWaves articles by Brian Straight.

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Brian Straight

Brian Straight covers general transportation news and leads the editorial team as Managing Editor. A journalism graduate of the University of Rhode Island, he has covered everything from a presidential election, to professional sports and Little League baseball, and for more than 10 years has covered trucking and logistics. Before joining FreightWaves, he was previously responsible for the editorial quality and production of Fleet Owner magazine and fleetowner.com. Brian lives in Connecticut with his wife and two kids and spends his time coaching his son’s baseball team, golfing with his daughter, and pursuing his never-ending quest to become a professional bowler.