Shell Tech Focus: It’s what you put in

  • Director of the Transformers film franchise, Michael Bay, has been tasked by the oil company Shell to direct an advertisement in the style of a short film for their V-Power Nitro+ fuel.
  • ‘New-generation Shell V-Power Nitro+ contains significantly more of the proprietary formulation called Friction Modification Technology (FMT)’
  • Shell V-Power Nitro+ is suitable for all makes of car.
  • New-generation Shell V-Power Nitro+ contains significantly more of Shell’s proprietary formulation called Friction Modification Technology (FMT).
Date:14 August 2015

Bred on the racetrack, endorsed by today’s high-performance road cars, Shell V-Power Nitro+ is about unlocking the true performance potential of your car’s engine.


Compiled by the publishers of Popular Mechanics and sponsored by Shell

Sophisticated high-performance engines require an equally sophisticated fuel to operate optimally. That’s why, with unique formulations designed to actively clean your engine and protect vital engine parts, Shell V-Power Nitro+premium fuels are seen as an ideal partner for the legendary BMW M and BMW M Performance vehicles.

It’s quite a coup to be associated with the distinctive tri-stripe M badge, which has adorned race-bred sports models for five decades.

Shell’s commitment to innovation through motor-sport forms an integral part of its extensive Research and Development programme and is key to making better fuels and lubricants. Its long-standing technical sponsorship with Scuderia Ferrari in Formula One is now complemented by BMW Motorsport and BMW M’s endorsement of Shell V-Power Nitro+, giving Shell the opportunity to work with a credible and respected global partner both on and off the track.

Shell is now the Premium Technology Partner to BMW Motorsport, and will work with BMW Motorsport as an exclusive supplier to provide and develop Shell oils for BMW racing cars.

Additive used in the Shell V-Power Nitro+ fuel you buy at your local Shell forecourt contains 99 per cent of the same types of compounds found in Shell V-Power race fuel. Fortunately, you don’t have to be a Formula One driver to appreciate the finer points of an exclusive premium formulation that provides the best total engine protection against performance-robbing engine deposits, corrosion, superior protection against wear – and the ultimate in road car performance.

Shell’s quest for enhanced high-specification fuels for road cars started 60 years ago when Enzo Ferrari was just starting out. That developed into a technical partnership that has provided an environment to test new fuels in extreme conditions and transfer what is learnt on the track to the development of products that customers can buy at a Shell service station. With Shell’s help, Scuderia Ferrari has won 10 Constructors’ titles and 12 drivers’ championships. That has enabled Shell to compile a database of approximately 5 000 fuels and 8 000 oil samples taken at Formula One races. Transferring this knowledge to the road, BMW M also recommends Shell V-Power fuels for use in all BMW M and BMW M Performance vehicles.

Focused on performance

Clearly, motorsport partnerships provide a fantastic testbed for technology and innovation. In the real world, it’s been a decade since Shell became the first fuel company in the South African market to launch differentiated fuels. Now the focus is on protecting your engine performance, says Cluster Fuels Marketing Manager Frans Maluleke.

“We are focusing not just on the petrolheads, but also talking to a younger market that is getting into the motoring environment, buying cars.”

Shell’s research has shown that most motorists fill up with what the vehicle manufacturer recommends. But they will always go with what they believe is the best. So loyalty is slowly starting to
play a part.

“Convenience plays a big part in the motorist’s decision-making. When it comes to the footprint, we currently are still strong when it comes to highway sites. Our famous Ultra Cities are still the destination of choice for customers, especially during long-distance travels,” says Maluleke.

The fact is, South Africans really care about their cars. They don’t want to risk putting that particular investment at risk. If you are not using the right products, you are not protecting your engine against power-robbing performance.

A typical car manufacturer might specify 95 octane fuel, but wouldn’t necessarily say which brand. “Now here you have BMW endorsing our product for a car like its M3,” Maluleke says. “And we know that protection does matter to our consumers, especially when it comes to the performance side of the vehicle.”

The M Connection

BMW M Division is a 100 per cent subsidiary of BMW AG. With its products and services in the five business areas of BMW M Automobiles and BMW M Performance Automobiles, BMW Individual, M Sports Options and Packages, and BMW Group Driving Experience, as well as Safety, Emergency and Special-Purpose Vehicles, it is geared towards customers with particularly high aspirations in terms of the performance, exclusivity and individual style of their vehicle. Based in the north of Munich, the company was founded in 1972 as BMW Motorsport Division. Since then, the letter M has become synonymous all over the world for success in motor racing and for the fascination of high-performance sports cars for road use.

While the Shell Technical Partnership with Ferrari is one of the strongest and most established in motorsport, the new relationship with BMW gives Shell the opportunity to broaden the scope of its Research and Development. Shell continues to invest over 50 technical staff and 21 000 hours a year into Research and Development to give Scuderia Ferrari the competitive edge in Formula One.

Diesel gathers momentum

In the past few years, some of the most sophisticated, powerful and refined diesel engines to date have been manufactured. Unsurprisingly, two out of every three cars coming on to the road today are diesel-engined.

Says Maluleke: “For us as a fuels company, this indicates to us that we basically need to continue communicating to customers the benefit in using our V-Power diesel given that it is designed to enhance performance and clean your engine as you go. In short, it is ideally formulated for the modern diesel engine.”

A blend of synthetic and petroleum-based diesels, Shell V-Power diesel contains extra additives to clean the injection system and improve the lubricity of vital components such as the injection pump and injectors. Shell V-Power Nitro+ Diesel 50 ppm has been specially formulated for increased cleanliness and protection of diesel fuel injection systems in the latest diesel engines. It’s designed to restore and maintain engine power through active engine cleaning and contains anti-rust components designed to prevent corrosion of your engine’s precision-engineered fuel injection system.

Thanks to its synthetic base (derived from a gas-to-liquid process) it is less smelly than regular diesel. Although it’s slightly less dense that standard diesel, with consequently lower unit energy, it ignites more readily, with a higher cetane rating, and thereby burns cleaner because it produces less soot.

Why testing matters

Ensuring consistency across the supply chain from refinery to petrol pump is the job of Shell South Africa’s Fuels Product Quality Excellence Lead, Nervani Sahadeo. She is one of a global team of 13 and reports to Europe.

Awareness of the benefits of high-performance fuel forms a big part of making consumers becoming more comfortable and are getting more educated on the subject, Sahadeo says. “This follows recent trends in the country, in terms of moving from ‘traditional’ fuel to ‘advanced’ fuel in terms of the Department of Energy requirements. It started with taking out lead and then we moved to unleaded,” Sahadeo says. “Then it was taking sulphur out of fuel and minimising emissions.”

That means that the V-Power Nitro+ you buy on the Highveld is produced to the same standards as in the US Midwest or Asia.

Sahadeo is well up with current trends because she interacts with SA’s association of motor manufacturers and sit on the specification body. “From their perspective as well, they are building engines that are basically fit for these cleaner fuels.”

As part of ongoing and comprehensive Research and Development work, Shell V-Power fuels have been tested in the latest BMW petrol and diesel engines, too. The results confirm the performance benefits of Shell V-Power in BMW engines. Shell Quality Fuels are recommended in the next generation of BMW owner manuals and Shell V-Power in BMW M owner manuals starting in 11/2015.

What does the testing entail? “The global research team would do friction tests, for example in regard to the pistons in the cylinders. They would also do a cleaning test, checking the deposits on pistons, and how fuels clean or reduce the deposits on the internal components of engines.”

To that end, Shell’s Product and Technology department in Germany sources different models from various manufacturers and these are tested individually in industry standard laboratory procedures and bench engines, and in a range of popular vehicles. The list includes various conventional and modern vehicles, such as those equipped with turbochargers, direct-fuel injection, and flex-fuel vehicles.

To ensure optimum performance in South Africa’s harsh operating conditions, when it comes to extremes of climate, altitude and long distances between major centres, fuel has to comply with the national specification. “This works on two different conditions,” Sahadeo says. “We have a winter and a summer spec, and in terms of regions is split into inland and coastal. We manufacture to that specification along those guidelines. That will cover your colder areas, your warmer areas and what’s needed within those areas. The same arrangement exists in Europe as well; they also work on different specifications for the seasons and the areas in which you are travelling.”

Changing conditions and changing scenarios mean that work on fuels never quite stops. As it is, approximately 120 fuel scientists and specialists across the globe work on fuels innovation and development at Shell. After all, it’s all about what you put in.

‘While the Shell Technical Partnership with Ferrari is one of the strongest and most established in motorsport, the new relationship with BMW provides the opportunity to broaden the scope of Shell’s Research and Development in motorsport.’

1907 – Royal Dutch Shell established
1930 – Sponsorship of Enzo Ferrari
1947 – The first Ferrari drives out of the factory gates in Maranello, Italy, powered by Shell petrol
2005 – SA Department of Energy calls for clean fuels. Shell’s response: V-Power, Fit and Strong
2013 – Shell V-Power Nitro+: Performance re-invented
2015 – BMW M endorses Shell V-Power Nitro+

‘New-generation Shell V-Power Nitro+ contains significantly more of the proprietary formulation called Friction Modification Technology (FMT).’

Shell V-Power FAQs

  • Why did Shell develop Shell V-Power NiTRO+?
    A significant proportion of today’s current new cars are designed for premium fuels and that is expected to grow.
  • Is Shell V-Power NiTRO+ suitable for any car?
    Yes, all conventional, modern and hybrid vehicles as well as motorcycles.
  • Why should my engine be clean?
    Corrosion is caused by moisture and other contaminants that can make their way into a vehicle’s fuel tank. It can impact the fuel pump, fuel lines and fuel injectors. Furthermore, formation of particles from corrosive processes such as rusting of steel surfaces can contribute to the blockage of fuel filters, impacting overall vehicle operation.
    New-generation Shell V-Power Nitro+ contains significantly more of Shell’s proprietary formulation called Friction Modification Technology (FMT), which reduces friction between the piston assembly and cylinder wall by coating them with a protective film. Abrasive wear in the piston assembly occurs slowly over time, with potential detrimental effects including higher oil consumption, loss of power and higher emissions.
    In addition, friction modification technology within the fuel is designed to further enhance engine efficiency by releasing power that would otherwise be wasted in fighting friction.
  • Why does fuel quality matter in motorsport?
    Less fuel means less weight. And that means the potential for faster lap times. Shell works tirelessly to improve the fuel economy of Shell V-Power race fuel, so the team can fill up with less and still complete a full race distance.
    The fuel is tailored to the exact engine requirements, and further refined for optimum performance at key circuits.



Watch the Shell V-Power Nitro+ Film directed by Michael Bay
Director of the Transformers film franchise, Michael Bay, has been tasked by the oil company Shell to direct an advertisement in the style of a short film for their V-Power Nitro+ fuel. Watch it here.