Energy-efficient transport

Energy efficiency is an important consideration in our development of fuels and lubricants that keep people and goods on the move.

Efficient fuels

A customer at a hydrogen fuelling station in Hamburg, Germany (photo)

A customer fills his car with hydrogen at one of Shell’s hydrogen fuelling stations in Hamburg, Germany.

Shell supplies fuels to millions of drivers around the world every day. For more than a century, our scientists have worked to develop high-quality products to improve the driving experience and energy efficiency of our customers. For example, Shell FuelSave Diesel contains ingredients designed to improve the combustion process in vehicle engines. This, in turn, can boost efficiency and help drivers save fuel. Shell FuelSave Diesel has helped reduce the carbon footprint of business customers in the bus, coach, construction and trucking sectors.

Shell Fuel uses a gas-to-liquids (GTL) process, with natural gas as a feedstock, to produce a cleaner-burning alternative fuel to conventional diesel. It is virtually sulphur-free, odourless and helps to improve local air quality. Shell GTL Fuel can be used as a drop-in diesel fuel without engine modification or new infrastructure or vehicle investment.

Advanced lubricants

The lubricants we produce for motorists and commercial vehicles are designed to increase engine efficiency and reduce fuel consumption. Shell is one of the largest investors in research and development (R&D) among international oil and gas companies and employs more than 200 scientists and engineers in lubricants . Our technology centre in Shanghai, China, researches motor oils for passenger cars, heavy-duty engine oils and transmission fluids for the Asian markets, while our marine power innovation centre in Hamburg, Germany, develops lubricants for ships.

Our Shell Rimula range of heavy-duty engine oils was developed with leading engine makers including Mercedes Benz. The oils help heavy-duty commercial vehicle operators improve the fuel economy of their fleets, while providing extra protection against wear in the vehicle engine.

We also produce high-quality engine lubricants which can improve the fuel efficiency of passenger cars and motorcycles. These include products manufactured using Shell PurePlus Technology that applies the GTL process to produce a clear base oil. This has much lower levels of impurities than other base oils and can help improve performance.

Fuel efficiency

Each year, Shell runs a series of competitions, called Shell Eco-marathon, in which we challenge student teams from around the world to design and build ultra energy-efficient vehicles. The events – which take place in the Americas, Africa, Asia and Europe – inspire young engineers to push the boundaries of innovation. The winning teams are those which can travel the furthest on the least amount of energy. Competitors regularly enter vehicles capable of travelling more than 1,000 km on a single litre of fuel. In 2015, one of the leading vehicles was capable of travelling more than 2,500 km on 1 litre of fuel.

Project M

Shell lubricants experts are working closely with leading car designer, Professor Gordon Murray, and engine specialists, Geo Technology, to co-engineer a compact, ultra-efficient concept car for urban driving. Due for launch in April 2016, it could help to advance efficient energy use in transport if it is produced by a car manufacturer.

Electric mobility

We have taken part in electric mobility trials since 2013 with commercial partners in Germany, the UK and the USA. In 2015, we took part in a trial in California, USA, with San Diego Gas & Electric. The trial integrated electric vehicles into California’s wholesale energy market by aggregating the storage capacity of electric vehicle fleets across five locations.


Hydrogen has the potential to be an important low-carbon transport fuel. Hydrogen electric vehicles are quick to refuel and can drive a similar range as conventional cars. Hydrogen electric vehicles could also help improve local air quality as they produce water rather than emissions from the tailpipe. When electricity from renewable sources is used to produce the hydrogen, in future, they could generate close to no carbon emissions.

Shell is taking part in several initiatives to encourage the adoption of hydrogen electric energy as a transport fuel. Hydrogen electric transport can succeed if vehicle manufacturers and fuel suppliers, with the support of governments, work together to enable wide uptake of the technology. There needs to be a sufficient refuelling infrastructure to attract customers, as well as incentives for businesses to build this infrastructure.

In Germany, for example, the government is supporting the deployment of a national network of hydrogen electric fuelling stations across the country by 2023. We are working on this project with our joint-venture partners in H2 Mobility Germany – Air Liquide, Daimler, Linde, OMV and Total. We currently operate three hydrogen filling stations in Germany and have two hydrogen filling stations in Los Angeles, California. We are assessing the potential for similar projects in the USA, UK, Switzerland, Austria, France, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands.

gas to liquids
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