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May 04, 2018   |   Diesel Technology Forum

Policy Insider

That’s One…Cool…Truck!!

Project "Starship” - a Class 8 tractor powered by the latest advanced technology diesel engine along with other technologies to push the limits in truck efficiency – is a hyper-fuel efficient demonstration truck that just may be traveling through your community this summer.


It’s project "Starship” and it’s not George Clinton’s tribute band or another one of Elon Musk’s rockets. It’s a demonstration project testing the latest iteration of a new technology diesel Class 8 truck that just may be traveling through your community this summer.

It’s made of carbon fiber. It’s got a wraparound windshield and a 5,000 watt solar array. What is it? It is Shell's AirFlow Starship - a hyper-fuel efficient Class 8 tractor powered by the latest advanced technology diesel engine along with other technologies to push the limits in truck efficiency. While the truck looks impressive, there is more technology inside the vehicle than outside. Next generation lubricants have been developed to reduce friction in moving parts, the solar array helps power air conditioning and other electrical loads that usually would have reduce the efficiency of the engine, there is a hybrid system built into the transmission that gives the truck a boost, and there are articulated grill louvres that open and close to help improve the aerodynamics of the truck, just to name a few. All of these technologies are integrated to help improve the fuel consumption of the engine… and then there is the engine. 

The Starship is powered by an advanced technology 6 cylinder diesel engine developed by engine leader Cummins, that can move the truck hauling 80,000 lbs. at as little as 800 RPM. While that sounds very scientific, when the engine is operating at very low speeds, like 800 RPM, the powertrain is consuming very little fuel. The next time you are behind the wheel of your car, take a look at the tachometer on your dashboard and notice the RPMs of your engine. Most likely, you will see the engine operate well above 1,000 RPM. Just imagine that this truck is hauling up to 80,000 lbs. while the engine is humming at just 800 RPMs.

This summer, the truck’s manufacturer will be partnering with freight owners to take the truck on a spin from San Diego to Florida to determine the real world fuel efficiency capabilities of the truck. During the test drive, engineers will be collecting real time operational data including fuel consumption. If you see something that looks like a long spaceship driving through your community, it just might be the Starship on its way to demonstrate fuel sipping benefits of advance technology.



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Ezra Finkin
Director, Policy
efinkin@dieselforum.org
301-668-7230

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