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Will Shell’s new V-Power Nitro Plus fuel ruin car engines?

I remember the launch of another wonder fuel by Shell in 1986, “Formula Shell”, based on new technology and with a scientific image deliberately conjured up by Shell. There was only one small problem. The new wonder fuel ruined many car engines and it did so on an international basis.

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By John Donovan

The Telegraph has published an article today under the headline: Can Shell’s new ‘Formula 1’ petrol ease anger at pumps?

It asks: Is Shell’s new petrol – Shell’s new V-Power Nitro Plus fuel – as good as the fuel used in Formula 1 cars?

Extract

David Moss, the chief executive of Shell UK who was in Battersea to launch the fuel with Ferrari, accepted that petrol prices are “not cheap” but he insisted his company is not to blame. “If you take out the duties and taxes that customers pay in the UK, the fuel prices are some of the most competitive in Europe,” he said. “It is a very, very competitive market place and Shell has to be competitively placed.” He denies charges that Shell and others are profiteering from a captured UK market.

Mr Moss says the new fuel, whose engine cleaning agent is 25pc better than the old V-Power, is part of the effort to attract customers. He says: “For Shell to be giving customers the best possible fuel at no additional price is importance in these tough economic times.” He adds: “When you think that 99pc of Shell VP unleaded is the same component as in the F1 Ferrari, we don’t do that just to advertise, we do that to prove it. We’ve got 60 years, 21,000 hours a year, 120 scientists working round the world on fuel. And if it works in such extreme conditions in a Ferrari F1 car going round a circuit and to know that 99pc of that is in your car, I think should be quite reassuring.”

NOT A WORD ABOUT PAST DISASTERS INVOLVING SHELL WONDER FUEL

Some might think reading Shell’s advertising that nitrogen is a newly discovered chemical element. In fact it was discovered by a Scottish physician in 1772.  According to Wikipedia, it is notable for the range of explosively unstable compounds that it can produce. Lets hope that it does not blow up too many engines. I am only half joking.

I remember the launch of another wonder fuel by Shell in 1986, “Formula Shell”, based on new technology and with a scientific image deliberately conjured up by Shell.

There was only one small problem. The new wonder fuel ruined many car engines and it did so on an international basis.

Screen Shot 2013-04-24 at 15.58.00Don’t take my word for it. Read the account given by Keetie Sluyterman, Shell’s paid historian, author of ‘A History of Royal Dutch Shell, volume 3.’

Extracts from pages 204 & 207

To create brand distinctiveness, Shell launched two new brands on the basis of new technology and supported by heavy advertising. Helix motor oil in 1985 and Formula Shell in 1986.  The word Formula in the new brand for gasoline was chosen for its scientific connotations. Also, it appeared unchanged in many languages, which was important for international advertising.

In the UK, Formula Shell was launched with the punchline:

‘From today not all petrol is the same.’

The launch of Formula Shell in Europe resulted in higher sales. This early commercial success, however, became qualified when it appeared that in a small number of cars the new gasoline caused inlet values to burn. Negative publicity was inevitable, though the damage occurred in only four countries, Denmark, Norway, Malaysia, and the UK.

It took Shell technical experts in collaboration with the motor manufacturers more than a year to establish the cause of the problem. In the meantime, the Formula Shell brand was withdrawn from a number of markets, including the UK.  Once the problem had been identified, the product was reformulated and relaunched, in some markets under a new brand name.

The degree of spin is self-evident — damage in ONLY four countries…

And lets not forget that Shell has encountered problems with advertising its wonder fuels and has also supplied contaminated fuel in the USA and Canada.

The Wall Street Journal: Shell Canada Settles Suit Involving Quebec Drivers –CP: 22 July 2004

ASA BANS SHELL FUELSAVE ADVERTISING FALSE CLAIMS: UK Advertising Standards Authority: 19 October 2011

Shell ads banned over fuel claims: PRESS ASSOCIATION: 19 October 2011

Shell false claims over FuelSave featured on BBC TV Watchdog programme: 21 October 2011

New Zealand Herald: Watchdog says Shell Fuel ads misleading: (Front Page Story) 18 December 2008

New Zealand Herald: Watchdog says Shell fuel ads misleading: (Internet Version) 18 December 2008

Seattle Post-Intelligencer: Bad gas causes local cars to stall: 26 May 2008

Seattle Post-Intelligencer: Bad gas causes local cars to stall: 26 May 2008

Seattle Post-Intelligencer: Shell repairs damage to cars from gasoline mixed with water

KATU.COM, Portland, Oregon: June 2, 2008: Shell follows bad gas with bad service (SEATTLE – Some local drivers whose car engines were badly damaged by bad gasoline last weekend say they’re frustrated with how Shell Oil is treating them.)

Toronto Star: Shell shells out for tainted gas: Canadians denied help for problem: 4 June 2004

TheBostonChannel.com: Drivers Suing Shell, Texaco, Refinery Over Bad Gas: 4 June 2004

Palm Beach Post: Shell, Texaco pump again as bad gas replaced: 3 June 2004

National Post: Shell wonder fuels: Shell Canada settles Quebec tainted gas class-action suit: 22 July 2004

Miami Herald: Shell, Texaco clients seek refunds: 12 August 2004

The Wall Street Journal: Sulfur-removal Units Blamed For Tainted Shell Gasoline In La.: 3 Sept 2004

COMMENT FROM A SHELL RELATED SOURCE

John
 
You fail to mention in your article about fuels that the magic ingredient in “Formula Shell” was common salt (sodium chloride).
 
Hardly the most exotic chemical in the world!

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