Houston – Shell Lubricants and AirFlow Truck Company owner and designer, Bob Sliwa are developing a new hyper-fuel mileage Class 8 tractor trailer. This next-generation concept truck, nicknamed the StarShip, will feature a completely new design with the aim of breaking current fuel efficiency records for class 8 trucks after its debut in 2017.

"This is an exciting project for Shell that allows us to remain at the leading edge of technology development, energy efficiency and sustainability," said Selda Gunsel, vice-president of technology for Shell Global Solutions. “The transportation industry is dynamic and we intend to stay at the forefront of innovation – collaborating with companies like AirFlow to develop creative solutions that will benefit the industry for years to come.”

The pursuit of significant fuel economy gains for class 8 trucks and trailers is a challenging process given the size and traditional construction of a tractor and trailer.  With new fuel economy regulations on the horizon and the need for continuing advances in fuel economy, Shell Lubricants recognizes that a holistic approach to making fuel economy gains is important.  This includes advances in engine and drive train technology, the use of low viscosity synthetic lubricants, aerodynamic designs, efficient driving methods and more.

“During our continuous on-highway testing of Shell Rotella engine oils and other lubricants, we always seek to understand how efficiencies can be gained across the whole truck,” said Chris Guerrero, global brand manager for Shell Rotella.  “Aerodynamics plays a big role in achieving higher fuel economy and we look forward to working with Bob Sliwa and AirFlow Truck Company on the evolution of an all-new hyper fuel mileage tractor and trailer”.

Initial designs call for the StarShip tractor and trailer to join together into a single integrated unit. This will solve the problem of having a gap between the tractor and trailer, which is a big source of aerodynamic drag and loss of efficiency.  The tractor and trailer will also have newly designed side skirts, hood, front end and custom interior. The tractor to trailer Active Aerodynamics gap sealer and the trailer skirts will all retract below 35 mph or when coming up on obstructions such as a railroad crossing.

“It is a pleasure to work with a technology leader like the team at Shell Lubricants who also believes that there is lot that can be gained for the trucking industry with the development of more advanced and efficient trucks,” said Bob Sliwa, president of AirFlow Truck Company. “Building an efficient truck that could possibly be used by truckers across America is an exciting challenge.”

The relationship with AirFlow Truck Company is part of a collaborative process fostered by Shell Lubricants that encourages co-engineering.  Part of this process is to work with others to cooperatively design hardware and fluids with the goal to improve fuel economy and other efficiencies.

The Shell Lubricants team will provide technical consultation on engine and drivetrain components and recommendations for lubricant needs for use in the StarShip truck.  As the industry prepares for the next generation of diesel engine oils, currently designated as PC-11, the ability to work with AirFlow Truck Company gives Shell Lubricants the opportunity to align with an innovator in truck design and allows it to explore the limits of fuel efficiency.

“This technical alliance and the opportunity to work closely on the development of the next generation AirFlow truck is an exciting prospect,” said Dan Arcy, OEM technical manager, Shell Lubricants. “The ability to test some of our newest PC-11 engine oils in a cutting-edge vehicle will provide us with some valuable information as we work to create lower viscosity engine oils without sacrificing performance.”

The StarShip truck is expected to complete cross-country testing in 2017 as it seeks to establish new fuel economy records for a class 8 truck.  AirFlow Truck Company has built two previous aerodynamic and fuel efficient Class 8 tractor trailer, the first in 1983 and the most recent in 2012.  The most recent rig, dubbed the Bullet Truck, ran coast-to-coast hauling freight at 65,000 pounds gross vehicle weight and averaged a record 13.4 mpg.


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