Shell Concept Car: Everything You Need To Know
By Ameya Naik
1 mins read
Published on April 5, 2017
- The Shell concept car will not enter production
- The concept car returns a fuel efficiency fugure of 38 kmpl
- It gets a 660 cc, three cylinder petrol motor
I walked out of Bengaluru airport and started looking for the car that'll take me to Shell's Technical Centre. The opportunity was a good one, but there was a hidden agenda as well and I didn't see the irony of it all till my driver politely asked me what I was going to the centre for. I told him that beside taking a look at the Shells new sprawling premises, I was also getting to drive a car. "Does it belong to Shell?" I'd paraphrase that to does Shell manufacture cars? Of course not. It's something that the company has worked on in collaboration with some legends of the industry. "What's its purpose?" he queried. They want to show how a petrol car can save more fuel. "But don't they sell fuel? Shell that is?" and that's when the irony struck me. A fuel company involved in energy saving, interesting, isn't it.
With vehicle manufacturers focusing their attention on making hybrid, electric and even hydrogen cars, somewhere there is a threat to cars which on fossil fuel driven cars and though the transition won't happen anytime soon, the number of gasoline and diesel powered vehicles could decrease dramatically in the next couple of decades and we have to be prepared for a scenario with no petrol or diesel cars. And this is one scenario that frightens many gas companies, including Shell which is why they've lent a hand to create the Shell M Concept to make sure that every ounce of technology goes into making fuel driven cars efficient, practical and fun.
Shell's concept car project sees some brilliant minds put their heads together. To begin with, it's been developed on Gordon Murray's T25 city car and it's still 90 per cent the same car. Osama Goto, once the head of Honda's F1 engine development team, along with 8 engineers spent 800 hours working on the engine and finally Shell's engineers worked tirelessly to create lubricants best suited for the car.
The Shell M Concept car's motor started life in a Mitsubishi kei car. They kept the head and block of the 660cc, three cylinder unit, and discarded everything else. Shell designed the lubrication to match the engine which would improve the life of the engine as also efficiency and this is exactly what it wants to tell the OEMs. According to Neeraj Bhatia, Chief Marketing Officer, Shell India, "We want OEMs to involve us in their projects at an early stage so we can develop lubricants that will improve engine life and also power delivery and of course fuel efficiency"
The oil developed by Shell for the concept car was extremely thin. It's still the Ultra Helix brand but thinner. Put simply, the thinner the oil, the less friction, the better the efficiency. The Shell concept car runs on 0w 12 oil and has the same consistency as coffee. The viscosity of the oil is what makes the difference and though this particular grade has not been put to use in production ready cars yet, Shell's little experiment has borne fruit.
The Concept weighs 550 kilograms and can fit three adults, so it's practical. It's 660cc engine is capable of churning out 43 bhp and developing 64 Nm torque. I have to admit here that I got a chance to drive this one for exactly 10 minutes and while you can't get much out of this, there are a few things that left an impression. To begin with, it's light and while talking with Kevin Doyle from the firm that designed this car, I got to know that weight been stripped from everywhere: body, suspension, brakes, steering, exhaust, cooling, interior. There's practically no NVH materials in it. While it's pretty eager from the word go, 0 to 100 kmph is achieved in 15.8 seconds. I agree those figures are not great but what about this; its top speed stands at 156 kmph. Impressed? I sure was.
It's practical too with a 160 litre boot which can easily swallow a small trolley bag. The driver seat is placed in the centre while the other two occupants sit on either side behind the driver. There were some constraints related to space here but it wasn't uncomfortable for the driver atleast. As I have said earlier, it's eager to go and has a pretty balanced ride too. What is impressive, however, is that it gives 38 kmpl and that's a staggering figure achieved with all the seats filled and in city driving conditions. What it doesn't get though is air conditioning and power steering and while I could easily ignore the latter, the former could have certainly come in handy in India.
At the moment, Shell's Concept car is just test bed and it's already achieved its goal of saving fuel and not really compromising much on performance. It's clever and shows another path to achieving energy savings. Fossil fuels are clearly not out of the game yet!
Photos: Pawan Dagia
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