Future-proofing: Cummins Wants to Sell You More Than Just Diesels

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
future proofing cummins wants to sell you more than just diesels

It’s hard to hear the name Cummins and not immediately think of a Ram pickup struggling valiantly to pull a gnarled tree stump out of the unyielding earth. Certainly, the company’s diesel inline-six and V8 engines are to the truck world what Nike is to professional sports.

While Cummins’ fossil fuel-powered engines and power systems show no signs of becoming passé, a company ignores the future at its own peril. The green revolution is afoot, we’re told, and internal combustion power will one day occupy the niche currently inhabited by electric propulsion. With this in mind, Cummins has a plan.

During a teleconference Thursday, company executives outlined what the near future holds.

“As a global power leader for the commercial and industrial markets we serve, we are better positioned than any other company to win in new and emerging technologies,” said Tom Linebarger, Cummins Chairman and CEO. “Over the past 100 years, our ability to innovate and adapt has fueled our success and we are confident we are on the right path to do it again at this critical juncture. We are prepared to provide a range of power technologies to our customers from diesel and natural gas to fully electric and hybrid powertrains to ensure they always have the best solution for their application.”

That 6.7-liter inline-six turbo diesel in your Ram work truck (or oil-burning 5.0-liter V8 in your Nissan Titan) won’t disappear overnight. The company claims it will continue to focus on diesel engines as a core component of its business model, while pouring more R&D dollars into green tech. Cummins first went down this road with its natural gas-powered engines.

If future truck owners want it, Cummins wants to supply it.

So great is the urge to be out in front, the company is considering teaming up with others. Cummins hopes to develop a range of products — electric energy storage systems, power electronics and traction motor systems — for commercial applications.

“Cummins will begin electrified powertrain delivery in 2019, including battery electric and plug-in hybrids,” the company said in a statement. Calling these “first steps” just the beginning, Cummins claims to be working on gasoline engines which feature diesel-like performance, as well as a number of “exploratory” fuel cell projects.

[Image: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles]

Join the conversation
9 of 60 comments
  • Sector 5 Sector 5 on Jun 18, 2017

    I find an interesting angle on the pickup market: In the near future along comes a practical EV pickup. It's front wheel drive only. What share of the market would it fail to capture due to that factor? That's to say how many American buyers really need a pickup for it's intended purpose?

    • See 6 previous
    • Vulpine Vulpine on Jun 20, 2017

      @stuki Less than 50% of all pickups sold each year tow anything over 5000 pounds during their lifetime. Few even tow that much. This isn't to say there isn't a need for such heavy haulers, there is; but most pickup trucks are either used for light-duty services or do-it-yourself projects. Honestly, unless you're planning to haul a heavy 7500# or heavier camper behind it, most people simply don't need as much as they get and tend to waste far too much money on what is otherwise a status symbol. A BEV pickup can do almost anything any half-ton pickup can do and probably do it far cheaper when it comes to fuel costs (at least 50% cheaper "fuel", depending on grade used) while offering the kind of horsepower and torque to get out its own way, as well as the way of any other vehicle, just about. Yes, BEVs do have their limitations. But those limitations are nearly as severe as some would have you believe. Unless you REGULARLY travel farther than the battery's rated range, you NEVER have to stop for a recharge in everyday driving; simply plug it in at home (to your dryer outlet) and you're good to go the next day. A Class 2 recharger would have you ready to go in four hours, even if you have an 85kWh - 100kWh battery. On the road, you will have to make stops to recharge but even then they're not that much more frequent than refilling a gasoline-fueled truck and you don't have to stand at the side of the rig to fuel it while it's plugged in. And electrics have an advantage not even diesels offer--all that torque at zero RPM; you can get your load moving out and moving quicker than even the most powerful diesel, though admittedly the diesel •might• have a higher top end. Then again, you're not supposed to be towing at 80mph, much less 100mph or more.

  • IBx1 IBx1 on Jun 19, 2017

    Let's fire up the ole Cummins and head to the truck meet! *click* *whirr* Wooohoooo!

  • MaintenanceCosts Despite my hostile comments above I really can't wait to see a video of one of these at the strip. A production car running mid-eights is just bats. I just hope that at least one owner lets it happen, rather than offloading the car from the trailer straight into a helium-filled bag that goes into a dark secured warehouse until Barrett-Jackson 2056.
  • Schurkey Decades later, I'm still peeved that Honda failed to recall and repair the seat belts in my '80 Civic. Well-known issue with the retractors failing to retract.Honda cut a deal with the NHTSA at that time, to put a "lifetime warranty" on FUTURE seat belts, in return for not having to deal with the existing problems.Dirtbags all around. Customers screwed, corporation and Government moves on.
  • Bullnuke An acquaintance of mine 50+ years ago who was attending MIT (until General Hershey's folks sent him his "Greetings" letter) converted an Austin Mini from its staid 4 cylinder to an electric motored fuel cell vehicle. It was done as a project during his progression toward a Master Degree in Electrical Engineering. He told me it worked pretty well but wasn't something to use as a daily driver given the technology and availability of suitable components of the time. Fueling LH2 and LOX was somewhat problematic. Upon completion he removed his fuel cell and equipment and, for another project, reinstalled the 4 banger but reassembled it without mechanical fasteners using an experimental epoxy adhesive instead which, he said, worked much better and was a daily driver...for awhile. He went on to be an enlisted Reactor Operator on a submarine for a few years.
  • Ajla $100k is walking around money but this is almost certainly the last Dodge V8 vehicle and it's likely to be the most powerful factory-installed and warrantied pushrod engine ever. So there is some historical applicability to things even if you have an otherwise low opinion of the Challenger.And, like I said up thread, if you still hate it will be gone soon anyway.
  • Carlson Fan GM completely blew the marketing of the Volt. The commercials were terrible. You'd swear they told the advertising company to come up with an ad that would make sure no one went out and shopped a Volt after seeing it!...........LOL My buddy asked why I bought a car that only goes 40 miles on a charge? That pretty much sums up how confusing and uninformative the advertising was.