You probably wouldn’t expect an oil company to help develop an ultra fuel-efficient car, but that’s exactly what Shell has done. The energy giant teamed up with famed automotive engineer Gordon Murray – the man behind the 240 mph McLaren F1, once the world’s fastest production car -- to create a lightweight, eight-foot-long, three-seat city car that’s good for over 89 mpg.
Built on a tubular steel frame with carbon fiber and composite structural elements and bodywork, the car weighs just 1,212 pounds and needs just a 43 hp 660cc three-cylinder engine mounted in the rear to hit 98 mph. Shell formulated an experimental oil to maximize the motor’s efficiency.
Like the F1, the driver sits in the middle with two passengers to the sides and behind, giving all three a reasonable amount of space, even though the car is so narrow that five of them could fit side by side in a soccer goal. With a canopy-style door, you could still get in and out of it when it’s parked like that, and look like a sea creature emerging from its shell when you do.
Shell isn’t planning on building the car itself, it’s just a concept. However, Murray has been working with several automakers on similar designs and one day hopes to put something like it into production.