HOUSTON — Testing of Shell Rotella’s Starship 2.0 Class 8 truck has begun in preparation for another coast-to-coast run in in 2021. The official 2021 efficiency run will build on key takeaways from the initial program in 2018 and introduce new, innovative technologies.
The Starship Initiative is a collaborative effort between Shell Lubricants and AirFlow Truck Co. to develop a hyper-fuel-efficient Class 8 tractor trailer that offers reduced emissions and increases overall efficiency and economy for the freight industry.
The second-generation Starship Airflow tractor-trailer features a custom aerodynamic design, and its creators hope to demonstrate improvements in both fuel economy and reducing CO2 emissions.
The first Starship Initiative truck successfully completed a test run of more than 2,300 miles across the U.S., marking the first coast-to-coast journey of a prototype Class 8 vehicle of this type. During the first-generation Starship’s run, the truck was used in real-world trucking operations and exposed to real-world conditions, including unplanned stops and torrential rains along the way.
The final total truck and cargo weight was close to 73,000 pounds, 28% heavier than the average total gross vehicle weight of 57,000 pounds for a U.S. on-highway Class 8 truck. The payload — material destined for a new offshore reef installation in Florida — weighed in at 39,900 pounds, 77% more mass than the U.S. average payload of 22,500 pounds.
Despite far-from-perfect road and weather conditions, the drive itself was a success. Starship attained 178.4 ton-miles per gallon, nearly a 2.5 times improvement over the North America average freight ton efficiency of 72 ton-miles per gallon for trucks.
During the journey, which traversed vastly different roads and terrain and was affected by varying weather conditions, Starship 1.0’s total average fuel economy was 8.94 miles per gallon, compared to the average U.S. fuel economy for transport trucks at 6.4 miles per gallons. The best fuel economy attained during the drive was 10.2 miles per gallon.
For more information about the Starship Initiative program, click here.