Cummins Developing Class 6 Plug-in Hybrid that Reduces Fuel Use by 50%


Cummins Inc. has been awarded a $4.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to develop a Class 6 commercial plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) that can reduce fuel consumption by at least 50% over conventional Class 6 vehicles.

When fully loaded, Class 6 vehicles weigh between approximately 19,000 pounds and 26,000 pounds. Typical examples include school buses or single-axle work trucks.

Cummins researchers will optimize the powertrain by selecting the engine with the best architecture to use as an electric commercial vehicle range extender and by using the engine to manage the charge level of the all-electric-drive battery pack. The range extender will be integrated, using advanced vehicle controls, with the electrified powertrain and other applicable technologies. The system is similar to the drivetrain of other PHEVs, such as the Chevy Volt.

Researchers aim to demonstrate improved fuel consumption, driveability and performance, regardless of environmental conditions.

Cummins is partnering with PACCAR on the project, and the full team includes representatives from The Ohio State University, National Renewable Energy Laboratory and Argonne National Laboratory.

“The close integration and control of the electrified powertrain with an appropriately selected engine is critically important to developing a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle system,” says Wayne Eckerle, vice president of research and technology at Cummins. “We believe that through the team’s efforts, we can soon make these innovations commercially available, which has the potential to translate into substantial savings annually per vehicle, helping our customers and the environment.”

The reduction of fuel consumption will be met or exceeded during a wide-range of drive cycles designed to meet the needs of a wide variety of commercial fleet operators. The fuel reduction goals will be achieved through the use of an electrified vehicle powertrain, optimization of the internal combustion engine operation and other technologies, including intelligent transportation systems and electronic braking.

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