Design Engineering

Shell’s Project M concept car boasts efficiency


General Automotive concept car

Three-seater's design utilizes the weight reduction and aerodynamics found in Formula One racing.

Shell has revealed its new lightweight vehicle prototype, titled Project M. Shell has designed the car for city driving and boasts that it uses a third less energy in its lifetime than a typical city car.

Shell Project M concept Car

(Photo: Shell/Justin Leighton)

The three seater concept car was designed with the kind of attention to weight reduction and aerodynamics found in Formula One racing. The three seater concept car was designed with the kind of attention to weight reduction and aerodynamics found in Formula One racing. Project M’s low-cost, low-carbon construction demonstrates a way to help keep increasingly crowded cities moving, while minimizing energy use and emissions.

“You could build this car and drive it for around 100,000 kilometres before consuming the same energy it takes to make a typical SUV,” says engineer Bob Mainwaring, Shell’s Technology Manager for Innovation, who is leading the project.

The Project M design is a collaboration between industry experts including F1 designer Gordon Murray, engine experts Geo Technology and Shell scientists who worked together to co-engineer the car’s body, engine and lubricant to minimize fuel use and CO2 emissions. The vehicle is a rethink of the Gordon Murray Design T.25 city car produced in 2010.


“The lower weight and the aerodynamic improvement has been a significant factor in increasing the efficiency. So has the engine lubricant collaboration between Shell and Geo Technology,” said Matt Brewerton, the lead project design engineer at GMD.

The car’s body is made with recycled carbon fibre. This helps to reduce its overall weight to 550 kilograms, while cutting the energy used in manufacturing by up to 45 per cent compared to a city car available today. According to Shell, the car tops off at speeds of 110 km/h but its peak performance is set at 50-60 km/h, perfect for city driving.

Shell Concept Car Project MThe design of the car has taken into account all areas of vehicle functionality, including wing mirrors which have been replaced with tiny digital cameras that relay the view of the road behind through screens inside, and new wheel-arch covers to reduce drag.

‘’We decided to build a car from scratch, a practical solution to driving in modern cities,” said Gordon Murray, CEO of Gordon Murray Design.

‘’It’s a holistic approach: the materials, the manufacturing process, the lubricants, the design and engine,’’ added Mainwaring.

From a styling perspective, the Shell Concept Car offers a new take on the ‘tall and narrow’ look, and dials up the fun factor with its sporty central driving position and two passenger seats behind. The design produces an extremely novel seating arrangement allowing three people to be carried despite the car’s diminutive exterior dimensions and gives it a turning circle smaller than that of a London taxi, making it ideal for urban driving.

“Our car may be small, but it’s packed with potential,”said Dr. Andrew Hepher, Vice President, of Shell’s lubricant research team. “We want to accelerate the conversation about how we make road vehicles more energy efficient and less carbon-intensive. In the coming weeks and months, we look forward to sharing our research insights from this project with engine designers, car manufacturers, academics and other experts across the automotive sector.”


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