Diesel engine builder Cummins announced yesterday that it is taking major steps toward electrified powertrains, including hybrids and full EVs, and it will launch one of those powertrains in 2019. A representative from the company said in a conference call that the first powertrain will be a full electric launched at the end of that year. The following year, Cummins will release a range-extended electric powertrain, similar to that of the Workhorse W-15 and the BMW i3. The representative said that the early applications will be for buses and delivery vehicles, and other applications including trucks and off-highway vehicles will come later. The company will also provide more details on the new powertrains in a few months.
These electrified powertrains will also use a large portion of Cummins components, as well. The company said it is working on batteries, motors, and all of the controlling electronics. Representatives did say the company is open to working with other companies on developing products, too, though.
As for why Cummins is making this shift, the chief technical officer for Cummins said there is “a trend away from diesel.” Among the factors the Cummins representatives mentioned as contributing to this trend are growing availability of electric components and alternative fuel technology, stiffening emissions and sound regulations, and greater demand for environmentally friendly powertrains are driving this change. Related to this are other alternative fuel technologies Cummins is researching, including bio and synthetic fuels, hydrogen, and natural gas. The company is currently building a natural gas fuel cell to help power a Microsoft data center in Seattle.
Fans of Cummins diesel powertrains shouldn’t be too worried, yet, though. The chief technical officer for Cummins said “diesel will continue to play a significant role in some of our markets for a long time.” And since trucks are farther down the list for receiving electrified powertrains, you should still be able to find purely diesel Rams and Nissans for the foreseeable future.