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Shell, Gordon Murray and Osamu Goto to develop new ultra-compact ICE city car

Shell, in collaboration with Professor Gordon Murray and engine specialist Osamu Goto will co-engineer an ultra-compact, efficient car for city use based around the internal combustion engine (ICE). Initiated by Shell, the collaboration, which is called Project M, brings together Shell’s Lubricant’s Technology Team, The Gordon Murray Design Group and Goto’s engine specialist company Geo Technology. Development of the lubricants, engine and vehicle will be completely integrated.

The Shell car will be a ground-up, total re-think of the Gordon Murray Design T.25 car developed in 2010 using specially formulated Shell lubricants. (Earlier post.) The car, intended to be a simple, practical global city car leveraging light-weight engineering, streamlining, and driveline efficiency, is scheduled to be unveiled in November 2015.

People will be able to follow the development of the car through the website, Once built, the car will be tested on-the-road.

Project M Concept Drawing
Project M concept drawing. Click to enlarge.

Shell will design the motor oil that complements and enhances the overall efficiency of the vehicle. Many people may assume that oil, greases and fuels are simply added at the end of a concept-car build project such as this, but the Shell car aims to show what can be achieved when its products are integrated into the design from the start.

The three parties last collaborated in 1988 on Ayrton Senna’s and Alain Prost’s Honda-powered, Shell-fueled race cars that won all but one Grands Prix that season, a record that still stands. Shell and Professor Gordon Murray go back way further; Shell sponsored the first car and engine Professor Gordon Murray ever built, in South Africa, when he was just 19.

The T.25 project incorporated specially formulated, low viscosity engine oil, designed by the Shell Lubricants Technology Team. The vehicle’s fuel consumption was 97 mpg Imp (81 mpg US, 2.91 l/100 km) over the iconic Brighton-London course with a low friction engine lubricant playing a significant part in this figure. The concept lubricant when tested reduced urban-cycle fuel consumption by up to 6.5%.

Encouraged by the success of this earlier project Shell has instituted a second program with the Gordon Murray Design team and now with Geo Technology—to co-engineer the design and build of a concept car, optimizing the engine, devising even lower friction fluids and testing the car in real world conditions.

The Shell car is not intended for production, but to inspire thinking about how the efficiency and utility of a car with a relatively simple conventional gasoline engine can be maximized for city use around the globe and also to prove the benefits of ground-up engineering collaborations.

Why a petrol car? There are some innovative developments being done by the car manufacturing industry on electric or hybrid vehicles, but we’re going to need a mixture of energy and vehicle technologies to help meet demand in the future. Projections from independent organizations such as the International Energy Agency (IEA) say that the traditional engine and fossil fuels will still play a critical role in the coming decades. Any transition to a new energy mix will take some time to realize. To address this we are looking at ways to make personal transport as accessible and affordable as possible.

—Project M website

Gordon Murray Design was established in 2007 to develop an innovative manufacturing technology trademarked iStream. Gordon Murray Design’s first milestone was the T.25. Together with the all-electric T.27 that followed in mid-2011 (earlier post), the T.25 was central to both the development and validation of GMD’s iStream production process.

Engine specialist Geo Technology is the brainchild of Osamu Goto, former Director of Honda F1, R&D Manager at Ferrari F1 and Member of the Board at a Sauber-owned company. Following his work in motorsport, Goto founded Geo Technology—an engineering consultancy company working for the automobile and motorcycle industry.


Reminiscent of Kodak researching better celluloid in 2006.


Nonsense and a waste of money. The ICE is obsolete technology.


All dying technologies inspire supporters to find ways to extend its life by a few more years. Normal survival tactics.


Think you are assuming the whole world is like your own experience.

Wikipedia entry on India is "almost all find electricity supply intermittent and unreliable", which is my memory from travelling 20 years ago. So there is a large market wanting many urban vehicles who are likely to be sceptical about BEV for a vehicle they need in the next 20 years.

History has shown that change takes a long time, 20~50 years, so ICE vehicles will be around for a while yet and there is merit in advancing them.


I would say that the ICE vehicle is still doing very well, bringing more electric and electronics into its orbit, on a spectrum from stop/start to hybrid to PHEV.
As has been pointed out in many places, BEvs cause more CO2 when powered from coal generated electricity than hybrids.
(Though they are always better on tailpipe emissions!).

I would agree with DavidJ - change in this area takes a long time - we are still waiting on the improved batteries that will take the BEV mainstream.
Maybe we'll have them in 8-10 years or so.

If you look at the T.25 designs, you see that they are narrow and the implication is that you can fit two of them across a single lane. This I doubt. However, they say you can park perpendicular tot he kerb which would be a boon.

Also, they have an electric version (T27)

Building a good city car has proved difficult - witness the smart cars and the Japanese cube cars.

The European (Smart and T25) designs pay lip service to aerodynamics, the Japanese have accepted that these cars will rarely go more than 60kph and just made them square to increase interior space.

Anyway, it is an interesting take on a city car and I wish them well.

@ECI, read "The Innovator's Dilemma" by Clayton Christensen.

(It isn't about Kodak, but it is a great read).


ICE cars here in the UK start at around £6,000 including 20% VAT.
The E-Up is around £19,000.

I don't know how much the cheapest ICE city cars are in India, but I am betting they are cheaper than in the UK.

Anyone who imagines that we are anywhere near being competitive with batteries for small city cars is not living in the real world.

Pending substantial battery breakthroughs especially in the developing world ICE will be with us for a generation.

Aside from that, many of the advances they are hoping for in this design will be applicable to battery cars anyway.

Funnily enough Gordon Murray has got a pretty fair idea of how the car industry works.

Thanks for the tip, mahonj, I have read "The Innovator's Dilemma" and agree, it's excellent.

Carlos Ghosn has talked on camera about why Nissan developed the Leaf. They wanted to sell more cars in emerging markets, did the math and realized that they simply could not sell that many fossil fuel burning cars and end up with a habitable planet. Even the merest familiarity with air quality in China's major cities confirm this. They are now, in various ways, restricting the sale and operation of ICE vehicle as a result.

The world simply will not support the 1.29 billion people of India, and their counterparts in Brazil, etc., from driving ICE vehicles, not even Tuk tuks.

The answer to India's woeful grid is not to build gas stations instead.


The Smart car that isn't electric isn't smart. This class of mini-car seems most suited to BEV because rrban trips are low-speed and short distance. Car2go, Zipcar shared car systems with their designated parking spots could install charge stations.

The ICE however is ideally matched to a PHEV drivetrain burning any fuel available including hydrogen more practically stored at lower pressure than for use in a fuel cell stack. BEVs like the Tesla are dependent upon utility grid charging. PHEVs, with a much smaller battery pack are the better match to subsequently smaller, less expensive rooftop photovoltiac solar arrays. PHEVs are also more complementary to regional utility grids, but enabling households to more closely monitor and reduce electricity consumption overall reduces utility profits. Corporate interests direct investment in technologies which preserve a proprietary control. Above all, their interest is in keeping hapless consumers driving everywhere for all purposes and every need. Drive or die.


Most of us have acquired one or more addictions:

No. 1 = the use of smart cell phones (16 hours/day for many).
No. 2 = smoking tobacco or vapor (up to 50+% in many places)
No. 3 = driving a vehicle (almost 100% in many places)
No. 4 = drinking and drugs (very wide spread in many places).
No. 5 = many others

New addictions like fly drones, virtual games, etc will evolve and replace existing ones such as driving.

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