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February 26, 2020 10:30 AM, EST

Second Coast-to-Coast Trek Planned for Shell Starship Initiative Truck

ShellMegan Pino via Joe Howard/Transport Topics

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ATLANTA — Shell Lubricants is planning a second coast-to-coast run for its Starship Initiative truck, which is designed to study and test fuel-saving technologies for heavy-duty trucks.

Slated to be unveiled at a California trade show in May, the next-generation truck will feature aerodynamic, engine and drivetrain updates that address some of what was learned during the first run, which was completed in 2018, said Megan Pino, Shell Rotella global brand manager. Pino spoke with Transport Topics on Feb. 24 from American Trucking Associations’ Technology & Maintenance Council annual meeting.

“We announced [in 2018] that while we were very pleased with the results, we thought we could even do better — that there was more to the story,” she said. “Right now, we are undergoing phase two, making a lot of technology improvements to the truck as we speak.” Pino said the company would share more details on those upgrades at a later date. “We’re making some pretty big modifications,” she noted.

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A key reason for those upgrades, she noted, are the advancements that have come along in the five years since the first truck was built.

“We started working on this project in 2015. Now that it’s 2020, there’s a lot that’s happened from a technology improvement perspective in five years,” Pino said.

As with the initial test, the truck’s next run will commence in San Diego in late May and conclude in Jacksonville, Fla., in June. The company will reveal the results of the run that month, Pino said.

In 2018, the Starship truck attained 178.4 ton-miles per gallon, a nearly a 2.5-times improvement over the North America average freight ton efficiency of 72 ton-miles per gallon for trucks, Shell said then. That truck hauled a payload of 39,000 pounds and had a total vehicle weight of close to 73,000 pounds.

“This time, it should be right at 80,000 pounds,” Pino noted.

Also like the last run, the truck this year will haul rock that will be used in a clean reef material off the Florida coast, she said.

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