In the US recently, Cummins unveiled its all-electric powertrain demonstration truck in its home city of Columbus, Indiana. The event took many by surprise, with Cummins is underscoring the move to electric traction – as the environmental alternative to diesel – as a power choice for vocations that can use it going into the next decade.
Based on what appeared to be an International Class 7 cab and chassis, heavily modified by Detroit engineering and performance house Rousch Engineering, the two-axle Aeos featured a production-intent Cummins electric power module, and a single, direct-drive motor and battery pack.
According to Julie Furber, Executive Director of Cummins’ Electrified Power Business, the truck is weight neutral with its diesel-powered equivalent, but offers greater performance and zero emissions. Range with its single 140kW-per-hour battery pack is 100 miles, which can be boosted to 300 miles with a second battery pack.
The lighter, denser battery design allows it to hold a longer charge for improved range and faster charging, reducing downtime. The concept truck design includes an ‘Engine Generator’ option for extended range capabilities, allowing users to benefit from Cummins’ B4.5 or B6.7 engines, providing a claimed major advantage over today’s hybrid systems. These engine options offer 50 per cent fuel savings compared to today’s diesel hybrids with zero emissions.
Tim Proctor, Executive Director Product Management and Market Innovation at Cummins, said in a separate interview during the launch that the electric motor offered a peak power of 470hp and a continuous rating of 300hp with 2,500 lb ft of torque at peak, and 1,365 lb ft continuously. With such peak torque, the truck accelerates more rapidly than a diesel equivalent vehicle, while offering better than 30mpg (7.84 l/100km) equivalent mileage.
He also commented that at today’s rates of charge the battery takes an hour to charge but Cummins is predicting that battery advances in the interim will mean this charge time will be down to 20 minutes by 2020.
The unique exterior styling was to Cummins’ designs and executed by Rousch. The Aeos – named after one of the four flying horses in Greek mythology that pulled the god Helios’ chariot of the sun – is a demonstration project that will serve to further Cummins electric powertrain development. It will be in the main an engineering tool, but there are plans to put it into commercial service with a few carriers that are strong Cummins partners. Furber said that Cummins is not interested in becoming a truck manufacturer but is keen to work with partner original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) in developing electric powertrains.
The unveiling in front of Cummins employees, local dignitaries and the truck press was the climax of a morning press conference at which Cummins executives pledged the company would support its customers with conventional diesel, alternative fuels and various electric powertrains according to customer needs and market demands.
On the electric powertrains, Srikanth Padmanabhan, President of Cummins’ Engine Business, said the company will pursue three electric architectures: pure electric using only batteries, electric powertrain with range extending power generation that could in future use fuel cell technology from supplier partners, and hybrid power systems with smaller diesels complemented by electric drive.