Increasing efficiency and fuel economy in the commercial transport sector could make considerable progress to help reduce emissions, but this is an area without much focus in recent years. In May 2018, Shell and AirFlow Truck Company will demonstrate the performance of the Starship on a US coast-to-coast drive: beginning in California and ending in Florida. The truck will carry the maximum viable amount of freight within the allowed gross vehicle weight of 80,000lbs/36,287kgs.
Starship is a Class 8 Truck with a custom aerodynamic design made of carbon fibre. This includes the side skirts, hood, and front end. The Starship Project truck is powered by a 6-cylinder engine with 400 horsepower and 1850-foot pounds of torque.
The standard engine has been calibrated with the transmission to run at very low speeds and down to 800 rpm. Active grille shutters open to enable airflow through the radiator and into the engine compartment allowing cooling. When cooling is not needed the shutters are automatically closed, leaving the air to reroute around the vehicle. The result is less aerodynamic drag and reduced fuel consumption.
In the future Starship will feature a hybrid electric axle system with an electric motor and axle replacing the rear tractor non-drive axle. This will provide a power boost while climbing grades, where most of the fuel is consumed.