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, shell.com/Projectm. Once built, the car will be tested on-the-road.
|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.