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Shell/AirFlow Starship hyper-fuel efficient Class 8 truck to make cross-country run

Shell has partnered with the Airflow Truck Company to collaborate on a hyper-aerodynamic, fuel-efficient Class 8 concept truck: Starship. This next-generation concept truck features a custom, aerodynamic design and aims to demonstrate improvements in fuel economy for Class 8 trucks.

Starship will undertake a cross-country run, carrying a full cargo of clean reef material, 18-25 May starting in San Diego, Calif. and ending in Jacksonville, Fla. The run will show ways trucking operations can reduce the energy usage and costs associated with the transportation of goods through improved fuel-economy for a Class 8 truck and the measurement of freight-ton efficiency.


Special Starship features include:

  • Bespoke 100% hyper-aerodynamic carbon fiber cab.

  • Active grill shutters (active based on temperature to maximize aerodynamics and maximize efficiency) when open, enable air to flow through the radiator and into the engine compartment, allowing cooling. When cooling isn’t needed, the shutters are automatically closed, leaving the air to reroute around the vehicle. The result is less aerodynamic drag and reduced fuel consumption. There is also the additional benefit that closed shutters provide in cold weather, with reduced warm-up time of the engine.

  • Aerodynamic boat tail for streamlined air flow around truck and drag reduction. Bespoke design, elongated flaps fit the truck with long side skirts that reduce rear-end drag.

  • Hybrid electric axle system for a power boost while climbing grades; an electric motor and axle replace the rear tractor non-driven axle.

  • Custom automatic tire inflation system for consistent tire pressure and optimal fuel economy.

  • A downspeed axle configuration using advanced engine controls and automated manual transmission provides improved efficiency as well as good pulling power.

  • 5,000 watt solar array on trailer roof that charges and stores power in the battery pack for the main 48 volt battery bank on the tractor, powering the normal truck loads such as lights, wipers, blower motors, gauges, air conditioning and heating, microwaves, and other electrical components.

Starship uses full synthetic Shell Heavy Duty Engine Oil; Shell Rotella DEF Diesel Exhaust Fluid and Shell ROTELLA Extended Life Coolant; and Spirax S6 GXME 75W-80 transmission oil, Spirax S5 ADE 75W-85 differential oil and Spirax S6 GME 40 wheel hub oil.

Starship is equipped with a 2017 Cummins X15, 6 cylinder, 15-liter engine delivering 400 horsepower and 1,850 lb-ft (2,500 N·m) of torque.



It doesn't look like it could carry containers, so what use it it?
is there that much large non-containerized traffic on the roads ?


Run this as a hybrid with HPR.


By the time this is commercially available Tesla will be doing it all electric.


Would be interesting if Tesla would run the same stunt using their semi for a comparison...want to sell the trucking industry on electric vehicles, if it does well, that would do it. And, you don't need the solar panels.

Thomas Pedersen


In the US, you see very little container trucking. For two reasons, I suppose:

1) This trailer holds a lot more than a 40' container
2) Trucking distances can be very high, with up to 2000 km from the ocean

For hauling from shipping port to central storage in the middle of the country, this truck would be great. For delivies to a multitude of customers, it may lack too much in practicality.

P.S. All refer trailers should be fitted with solar panels. Installation cost should be negligible in a factory.


I like this as an exercise into what can be done, we need that.


Couple flaws I see with the design as a person whose driven medium duty box trucks for a living.

1) Side skirts appear to be solid design and need the lower portion as flexible hinged rubber to negate damage by excessive abrupt road elevation changes. As one would encounter navigating behind buildings they deliver at, truck stops, and excessive road crown in intersections.

2) While solar panels sound like a plausible installation I highly doubt it would last long as cities are simply horrible at maintaining trimming trees that would damage these systems.

3) Flaps to bridge the gap between trailer and cab need to be adjustable as weigh stations will fine you if your load isn't balanced properly among all the wheels. As not doing so would increase road damage since it would be exceeding the designed limits.

4) Headlights enclosure design has to be considered to simplify replacement and supply availability. Possibly a hinged flat flap window following body contours that would protect and house a standardized light fixture.


Roof top solar panels could be protected with Gorilla IV or transparent gril.

Skirts could easily be made with flexible unbreakable material.

Flaps to bridge the gap between cab and trailer could also be made with flexible unbreakable material.

LED headlights can last the full live duration of the trucks and more.


I never said it couldn't just things I don't see this design having installed. It's one thing to design something as an engineer and another thing to be the parts supply department trying to keep these in stock or repair facility working on it.

As Murphy's law which states "Anything that can go wrong will go wrong." Which the most likely cause of headlight damage is hitting an animal or road debris. Meaning weather it's a LED or not is a moot point. As to your "unbreakable" material that's pipe dream logic and in the real world will be sacrificial cheap rubber flaps that will break off to prevent damage to the rest of the structure.

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