Cummins Introduces Diesel, Hybrid-Electric Innovations

Cummins PowerDrive hybrid truck
Cummins PowerDrive hybrid truck. (Cummins)

Independent engine maker Cummins Inc. introduced innovations for the diesel engine intended to achieve a low nitrogen oxide-emissions future, a reduction in the carbon footprint and improve fuel mileage. It also presented a hybrid-electric powertrain.

Cummins made the announcements at the IAA Commercial Vehicles Show in Hanover, Germany.

The concept emissions-control system, which is under development, combines the turbocharged air management with the exhaust aftertreatment as a single close-coupled system, together with a new rotary turbine control.

This design uses advances in air and thermal management to immediately convert almost all NOx emissions to clean gas as it interacts with the selective catalytic reduction unit — minimizing emissions to levels previously thought unfeasible, including a possible next level of Euro VII regulations anticipated during the coming decade — according to the Columbus, Ind.-based company.

Cummins is developing other technologies to reduce friction and parasitic losses that also will continue to make the diesel engine even more productive and energy efficient.

Additionally, the use of enhanced design tools and advanced materials such as composites will bring opportunities to reduce component weight while retaining strength, further enhancing vehicle productivity.

“While Cummins has a vigorous electrification program underway, our other key message at IAA is that the diesel engine is not standing still,” Tim Proctor, executive director of product management, said in a statement.

Cummins also introduced the PowerDrive, an advanced suite of plug-in hybrid electric powertrain solutions spanning light-, medium- and heavy-duty application.

The PowerDrive replaces the conventional transmission. It switches in real time between two hybrid and two pure electric modes, optimizing the powertrain for the best fuel economics in any driving situation. The vehicle also is configured with exportable grid-quality electric power to recharge vehicles and a recovery crane operating on either electric or engine power takeoff.

The Cummins PowerDrive system has traveled more than 6 million miles in a fleet setting in the United States and China, and work has begun to introduce it to the European market. Its flexible architecture means the PowerDrive system can be combined with various sizes of diesel or natural gas engines and battery pack outputs.

It operates as a hybrid in either series or parallel configuration modes.

Series is better suited to low road speeds such as urban driving (stop/start conditions), while parallel is ideal for higher road speeds on the highway.

In a series hybrid, the electric motor is the only means of providing power to the wheels. The motor receives electric power from either the battery pack or from the engine-generator.

In a parallel hybrid, the engine and electric motor combine to provide the power that drives the wheels.

The third mode of electric plus comes online when higher energy is required when the system senses gradient climbing or acceleration for overtaking.

Also, to commemorate marking the 20th anniversary of Holset VGT, Cummins Turbo Technologies previewed its most premium Variable Geometry Turbocharger to date — the seventh generation Holset VGT.