Shell Starship: a tale of two halves (literally)

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In order for Shell and its design team to nearly completely reconfigure and upgrade the third generation truck from the second, the tractor was almost totally disassembled. Think of it like a giant jigsaw puzzle where every picometer is absolutely critical, and there's no box lid to use as a reference. 

With just weeks to go before Starship 3.0 hits the road for an emissions reduction and freight efficiency exercise, teams and specialty vehicle company SPEVCO and metal shop Reaper Custom Fabrication – armed with schematics and teams of engineers from Shell and Cummins – are hard at work putting the finishing touches on their respective pieces so the truck can be reassembled before hitting the road before the end of September. 

Check out the pictures below as all the pieces of the puzzle get closer to coming together.

Reaper Custom Fabrication (chassis and powertrain) 

Matt Greene, owner of Reaper Custom Fabrication in King, N.C., is very hands-on with his work. Here he is seen routing exhaust.Matt Greene, owner of Reaper Custom Fabrication in King, N.C., is very hands-on with his work. Here he is seen routing exhaust.

Working Side Engine

Reaper Custom Fabrication in King, N.C. had to make or find many of the truck's components. Even routing the CNG exhaust was a custom job.Reaper Custom Fabrication in King, N.C. had to make or find many of the truck's components. Even routing the CNG exhaust was a custom job.

Welding

Starship 3.0 is equipped with 120 diesel gallon equivalent of natural gas, enough for roughly 600 miles between refuels. Refueling is about a 15 minute process.Starship 3.0 is equipped with 120 diesel gallon equivalent of natural gas, enough for roughly 600 miles between refuels. Refueling is about a 15 minute process.

SPEVCO (cab and final assembly) 

Starship's cab sits on a lift at SPEVCO while awaiting the chassis. Craig Tharpe, SPEVCO director of engineering and design, said it will take about a day to put the pieces together, and several more days to connect all the pieces and test them properly.Starship's cab sits on a lift at SPEVCO while awaiting the chassis. Craig Tharpe, SPEVCO director of engineering and design, said it will take about a day to put the pieces together, and several more days to connect all the pieces and test them properly.

Starship's hood and bumper are likely its most recognizable features.Starship's hood and bumper are likely its most recognizable features.

The trailer gap fairing as been completely redesigned. The top now acts as a cap that, when fully deployed, locks the two sides into place.The trailer gap fairing as been completely redesigned. The top now acts as a cap that, when fully deployed, locks the two sides into place.

There's no doubt about what powerplant lies under Starship 3.0's carbon fiber nose.There's no doubt about what powerplant lies under Starship 3.0's carbon fiber nose.

Craig Tharpe, SPEVCO's director of engineering and design, speaks with Puneet Jhawar, general manager, Cummins Global Spark Ignited and Fuel Delivery Business, and Ryan Manthiri, Engineering Manager for the Starship Program for Shell Global Solutions.Craig Tharpe, SPEVCO's director of engineering and design, speaks with Puneet Jhawar, general manager, Cummins Global Spark Ignited and Fuel Delivery Business, and Ryan Manthiri, Engineering Manager for the Starship Program for Shell Global Solutions.


Jason Cannon has written about trucking and transportation for more than a decade and serves as Chief Editor of Commercial Carrier Journal. A Class A CDL holder, Jason is a graduate of the Porsche Sport Driving School, an honorary Duckmaster at The Peabody in Memphis, Tennessee, and a purple belt in Brazilian jiu jitsu. Reach him at [email protected].