A service vehicle with the Cummins PowerDrive hybrid system.

Cummins Inc. has unveiled the PowerDrive, a suite of plug-in hybrid electric powertrain solutions spanning light-, medium- and heavy-duty applications.

The four-mode Cummins PowerDrive system has traveled more than six million miles in a fleet setting in the U.S. and China, and work is underway to introduce it to the European market in the near future. The PowerDrive system’s flexible architecture allows it to be combined with various sizes of diesel or natural gas engines and battery pack outputs, says Cummins.

“The Cummins PowerDrive is intelligent, versatile and compact, providing our on-highway customers the flexibility needed to meet the demands of their diverse jobs and markets,” says Julie Furber, Cummins’ executive director of electrified power. “Cummins is ready to offer the new PowerDrive suite through our OEM partners. We look forward to discussing how the PowerDrive’s compact packaging envelope and weight-saving benefits will enable OEMs to produce PHEVs for diverse needs without compromising performance or range.”

According to Cummins, the system shifts between pure electric for environmentally sensitive areas with a 50-mile range and hybrid for jobs requiring more than 300 miles. It operates as a hybrid in either series or parallel configuration modes.

Series is better suited for 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.

Cummins says a U.S. Class 6 truck powered by the PowerDrive with a 50-mile electric range realizes reduced emissions by up to 80% compared to conventional vehicles. Similarly, fuel costs are reduced by 40%-80%, depending on the drive cycle.

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