Cummins looks to future with diesel engine footing, ‘energy-diverse’ products

Cummins Inc. executives gathered last month at the company’s technical center, near Columbus, Ind., headquarters, to spotlight a trucking industry future where diesel power will prevail for decades in certain segments, while others evolve around packages coupling internal combustion engines with mild hybrid design, and battery or fuel cells. In the core truck business, they reflected on progress their new on-highway X15 engine has exhibited through eight months of production—42,000 units shipped thus far—and strides the X12 cousin is making in field trials toward a spring 2018 debut. At 600 lbs. lighter than any other 10- to 13-liter class diesel engine for North American on/off-highway vehicles, the X12 is poised for mixer, dump and other weight-sensitive vocational trucks.

Shortly before lifting the hood to reveal the direct drive/continuous acceleration assembly, Cummins Electrification Business Executive Director Julie Furber presented the Aeos 4 x 2 Day Cab Tractor, with full battery electric power and 100-mile range. The truck will serve as a technology demonstrator for urban deliveries, port drayage and terminal container handling, payloads to 44,000 lbs. It runs on a Cummins-integrated Electrified Powertain and has a diesel-equivalent fuel efficiency exceeding 30 mpg.

Executives also pointed to the latest natural gas engine technology, Cummins Westport’s ISL G Near Zero model; the next generation X15, scheduled for 2022; and, in a public debut, a fully electric demonstration Urban Hauler Tractor. “As a global power leader for commercial and industrial customers, we are better positioned than any other company to win in new and emerging technologies and in new markets,” said Cummins CEO Rich Freeland. “Over the past century, our ability to innovate and adapt has fueled our success and we are confident we are on the right path to do it again.”

“We will harness our global footprint to continue to develop a wide variety of power technologies to bring our customers the choice and solutions that enable their success and contribute to a sustainable future,” added Chief Technical Officer Jennifer Rumsey.

Cummins leadership believes that energy diversity is critical to future success, as evidenced in technologies available now or on the drawing board:

Clean diesel. Management recognizes that diesel engines will be the best solutions for decades to come in many markets. The X15 and X12 engines reflect innovation in traditional diesel power, and are engineered for optimal performance and power while offering class-leading fuel economy through the use of advanced air handling and fuel system controls. Both utilize the compact Single Module Aftertreatment, which offers long maintenance intervals for the low cost of ownership. With the recent formation of the Eaton Cummins Automated Transmission Technologies Joint Venture, Cummins envisions “market-leading innovation for integrated powertrain technologies.”


On deck for Spring 2018: the X12 (350- to 475-hp), shown here in mid-2016 at demonstration stage.

Alternative fuels and power solutions. Beyond natural gas, where it has a foothold in medium and heavy-duty power through the Cummins Westport ISL G 9 and ISX G 12 engines, Cummins has invested in research & development yielding solutions that utilize a range of fuels. High-efficiency spark-ignited technology in the works can deliver diesel-like performance and durability across a range of liquid fuels, like ethanol, methanol, and gasoline. Cummins continues to investigate the viability of alternatives like bio-fuels, synthetic fuels and hydrogen, while also investing in exploratory projects focused on Proton Exchange Membrane and Solid Oxide Fuel Cell technologies.

Electrified powertrain solutions. Through the Concept Class 7 Urban Hauler EV, Cummins introduced an advanced battery pack, redefining energy-efficiency and density capabilities for the EV market. The lighter, denser battery design allows it to hold a longer charge for improved range and faster charging. The concept truck design includes an Engine-Generator option for extended range capabilities.

Digital capabilities, data & analytics. Management sees the potential for digital platforms to go far beyond established telematics systems. May 2017 saw launch of the Digital Accelerator, an internal organization seeking to streamline innovation and bring concepts from the idea stage to commercialization at the most efficient and effective pace. — Don Marsh