In what may be considered an unusual step for an oil company Shell is collaborating with the iconic South-African born race and road car designer, Gordon Murray on the development and construction of an ultra-compact and efficient city car.
Not surprisingly, given Shell's involvement, the concept will eschew the current electrification bandwagon and will be based around the internal combustion engine.
Shell says the car is not intended for production but rather 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, as well as to demonstrate the benefits of ground-up engineering collaborations.
Engine specialist Osamu Goto of Geo Technology is also collaborating on the project, which has been designated 'Project M'.
It is being launched at the Americas round of the Shell Eco-marathon, which is taking place in Detroit from April 9-to-12, 2015. The Shell Eco-marathon is a global series of competitions that that challenge student teams to design, build and test ultra-energy-efficient vehicles.
The finished concept is scheduled to be revealed in November 2015. In the interim, people will be able to follow the development of the car through a dedicated website. www.shell.com/Projectm.
The three parties involved in Project M have worked together before with great success – on the Honda-powered, Shell- fuelled, McLaren Formula 1 race cars driven by Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost that won all but one Grand Prix in the 1988 season.
While Murray earned renown as a race car designer, he was also responsible for the iconic road-going McLaren F1and Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren supercars.
After leaving McLaren, he established the Gordon Murray Design consultancy and shifted gears completely, embarking on the design of the ultimate city car, dubbed the T.25.
The Shell car is said to be a ground-up, total re-think of the Gordon Murray Design T.25 car, which was developed in 2010 using specially formulated Shell lubricants.
That vehicle achieved a fuel consumption level of 2.9 L/100 km in real-world testing, with a low friction Shell engine lubricant playing a significant part in that achievement.
Encouraged by the success of that project, it was Shell that initiated this new undertaking with the Gordon Murray Design team and Geo Technology. The Shell concept is intended to be a simple, practical and highly-efficient global city car, drawing together the most innovative aspects of light-weight engineering, streamlining, and driveline efficiency.
“Since working with the Gordon Murray Design team on the T.25 car in 2010, we have given further thought on how to deliver a complete rethink of the car, using as little energy as possible," said Selda Gunsel , Shell VP of lubricants technology.