03 Nov 2017

CUMMINS GOES ELECTRIC

Cummins goes electric, as we learned from the press conference on the first day of Busworld 2017. From now on, Cummins provides a fully electric drive unit range or one with a range extender, i.e. an electric drive with batteries that are fed on a regular basis through a diesel generator.

Cummins goes electric, as we learned from the press conference on the first day of Busworld 2017. From now on, Cummins provides a fully electric drive unit range or one with a range extender, i.e. an electric drive with batteries that are fed on a regular basis through a diesel generator. What was also announced right before Busworld is that Cummins acquired a US company that develops and supplies energy storage through batteries.

Cummins is known as the company whose engines are found in many buses and trucks, while it is rather unknown among the general public. Name recognition is not their thing. Nevertheless, quite a few vehicles around the world run on Cummins’ diesel or gas engines. Every year, more than 60,000 buses with a Cummins engine roll out of the factories. The company, which is over one hundred years old, has been working with electric drive units since 1995. What they did is develop a modularly built engine of which parts are interchangeable. At least, the same engine can be built into the next vehicle in another configuration.

Light diesel generator

For the diesel-generator-powered range extender, Cummins uses a very light 2.8 litre diesel engine that feeds the battery with 120 kW (160 hp) powering the electric engine. This engine is at least sixty percent smaller than the average engine in a city bus. Cummins claims that tests have shown that this engine consumes only eighteen litres of diesel per one hundred kilometres. The range extender should give this bus an action radius of 135 kilometres in zero emission mode. Please note that the diesel feeds the battery and does not power the engine. The standard battery supplied by Cummins should be good for up to 360 kilometres of action radius, if full capacity is used. By default, the battery is 70 kWh, but it can be increased eightfold up to 560 kWh.

Peak power

Both the battery version as the one with the range extender offer a torque of 1,850 Nm but this can increase if necessary to a peak level of 3,400 Nm. The electric engine, developed by Cummins itself, generates a power of 25 kW (302 hp) up to a peak power of 350 kW (469 hp).
Cummins obviously uses braking energy recovery, which may contribute up to 20 percent to the battery charge. An electronic control module keeps track of which systems require power so it can be provided in the best order. Such systems include the electronic power steering, air compressor, fans and the like. Enabling them at the times they are needed will save the necessary energy. During the Busworld press conference, it was emphasized that, next to city buses, the system would also be ideal for city distribution vehicles.

Energy storage

The determination of Cummins to walk the electric path is proven by the acquisition of Brammo, a North American company that specializes in energy storage. This company develops and builds batteries that store large amounts of power. This acquisition brings Cummins into a leading position in the provision of electrically powered drive units, whether mobile or stationary. Still, Cummins does not lose sight of diesel and gas. With these new goals, Cummins expects to play a leading role in the three forms of drive and energy storage, according to CEO Tom Linebarger. Cummins has accommodated Brammo in a newly created division that specifically focuses on electrification and that is led by Julie Furber. The American Cummins, which is headquartered in Columbus, Indiana, recorded a revenue of 17.5 billion US dollars in 2016, of which 1.39 billion US dollar was left below the line. Cummins employs around 55,400 people worldwide.



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