Although electric-car manufacturer Tesla is garnering its fair share of attention and headlines regarding electric trucks lately, veteran truck engine manufacturer Cummins Inc., Columbus, Ind., quietly maneuvered into place and beat Tesla off the starting line in late August. As of press time, Tesla is planning to introduce its new electric truck in late September.
Cummins recently unveiled its latest power solutions and energy-diverse products, demonstrating the company’s desire to be at the forefront of new technology. The company debuted its latest near-zero natural gas engine technology, super-efficient diesel engines and shared its plans to introduce what it says will be a “revolutionary” heavy-duty diesel engine in 2022.
Cummins also revealed, for the first time ever, a fully electric demonstration concept truck, the AEOS Urban Hauler tractor.
“These new technological innovations build on our 100-year legacy of bringing the best solutions to our customers, driving their success and meeting the evolving demands of their industries and markets,” said Jennifer Rumsey, chief technical officer at Cummins Inc., in a statement. “We will harness our global technical 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.”
Cummins President and Chief Executive Officer Rich Freeland added: “As a global power leader for the commercial and industrial customers we serve, with an unmatched service and support network, we are better positioned than any other company to win in new and emerging technologies and in new markets. We will leverage our deep industry and customer knowledge and our scale advantage to win. 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.”
Although Cummins already has a significant presence in alternative fuels such as natural gas and biodiesel, these alternatives rely on the company’s core competency in internal-combustion engines. The Urban Hauler’s reliance on electricity is new territory for Cummins.
With the unveiling of the Urban Hauler, Cummins introduced a state-of-the-art battery pack that offers redefined energy-efficiency and energy-density capabilities for the electric-vehicle market. The lighter, denser battery design allows it to hold a longer charge for improved range and faster charging, maximizing uptime.
Along with the battery-electric variant, the Urban Hauler concept truck’s design includes a range-extended series-hybrid option.
Most hybrids are parallel hybrids, meaning that one or both of the internal combustion and electric powerplants can be used to directly power the vehicle. In a range-extended series hybrid configuration, the internal combustion engine solely is used to generate electricity to power the electric drive motor, as is typical in today’s diesel-electric train locomotives.
Referred to as the “engine-generator” option for the Urban Hauler, this option benefits from Cummins’ B4.5 or B6.7 engines, offering a 50 percent fuel savings compared with today’s diesel hybrids.
The Urban Hauler concept truck uses a 140-kwh battery pack instead of a 12-liter engine. The weight of the electric powertrain is roughly equal to that of the removed engine, after-treatment, transmission and fuel tank. Range on the truck’s electric drivetrain is about 100 miles on a single charge for city driving. The range is extendable to as much as 300 miles with additional battery packs, or 600 miles with the engine-generator option.
A regenerative braking system and potential for solar panels on the trailer roof also can send energy to the battery pack. Additionally, air drag is reduced by replacing side mirrors with an in-dash camera system.
Cummins hopes that the powertrain and truck will enable it to learn more about the potential electrification holds for larger vehicles, it says.
Earlier this year, Cummins stepped up its efforts to commercialize its electrification capabilities, exploring potential partnerships to develop energy storage, power electronics, traction motor systems and component control for commercial applications. The company will begin electrified powertrain delivery in 2019, including battery-electric and plug-in hybrids.
Believing that energy diversity is critical to its future success, Cummins is working on developing more than electrification for its future product portfolio. Here are some of the highlights:
Clean diesel: Understanding that for many markets, diesel engines will remain the best solution for decades to come, Cummins introduced the powerful X15 and lightweight X12 engines, which are engineered for optimal performance and power with higher fuel economy through the use of advanced air handling and fuel system controls.
Alternative fuels & power solutions: Cummins is developing a high-efficiency, spark-ignited technology that can deliver diesel-like performance and durability across a range of liquid fuels, like ethanol, methanol and gasoline. The company continues to investigate the viability of alternatives like bio-fuels, synthetic fuels and hydrogen. It also invested in exploratory projects focused on Fuel Cell technologies.
Natural gas: Truck operators will find the Cummins Westport Near-Zero natural gas engines to have equivalent performance to diesel engines and, like the latest clean-diesel options, have little to no emissions for those seeking this discharge reduction. BI