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Shell V-Power NiTRO+ ignites memories of past Shell wonder fuel debacles

Screen Shot 2015-04-13 at 16.04.38I 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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COMMENT RECEIVED FROM A REGULAR CONTRIBUTOR… John, You have omitted to mention the details of the magic ingredient in “Formula Shell” that improved combustion and destroyed engines. It was nothing other than the chemical NaCl or Sodium Chloride, perhaps better known as common salt….

By John Donovan 

In a fanfare of pr, marketing, promotions and advertising hype, Shell has introduced another new wonder fuel in the USA. 

This time round, the new fuel is called Shell V-Power NiTRO+. 

THE HYPE

The major oil company said the fuel, which replaces its V-Power premium gasoline in the United States, is its “most technically advanced premium” fuel, formulated to protect engines from wear, corrosion and carbon-deposit buildup.

“New Shell V-Power Nitro+ Premium Gasoline isn’t just a breakthrough for Shell; it’s an industry breakthrough in fuels technology,” said Elen Phillips, vice president of Shell Americas fuels sales and marketing.

The NiTro ingredient is no doubt meant to convey the prospect of explosive power. 

Nitrogen is not 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.

Don’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.

ANOTHER SHELL WONDER FUEL FROM THE PAST

Shell with ICA

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Shell with ICA (known in America as Shell with TCP) was launched in the 1950’s supported with a worldwide publicity campaign, as demonstrated by the vehicles shown driving around in Perth Australia, in 1954. (Below) This was long before the advent of self-service on forecourts.

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ARTICLE ENDS

COMMENT RECEIVED FROM A REGULAR CONTRIBUTOR… John, You have omitted to mention the details of the magic ingredient in “Formula Shell” that improved combustion and destroyed engines. It was nothing other than the chemical NaCl or Sodium Chloride, perhaps better known as common salt….

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