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Cummins and Isuzu announce partnership on battery-electric trucks

Cummins and Isuzu have announced that they have formed an agreement to build a prototype medium-duty battery-electric truck. The unit will be used for demonstration in North America and mark the first zero-emissions powertrain solutions from the Isuzu Cummins Powertrain Partnership formed three years ago in May 2019. Powering the Isuzu F-Series truck will be Cummins’ PowerDrive6000 propulsion system. Pilot programs will start in 2022 for North American Fleets. Isuzu will then look to commercialize the truck throughout North America after it successfully shows off its demonstrators.

“We are excited to be working with Isuzu to accelerate decarbonization within the partnership,” said Amy Davis, Vice President and President of the New Power division at Cummins. “It’s through our joint commitment to innovation that we provide our customers with safe, reliable zero-emissions solutions.” Both companies will be leveraging each other’s strengths to advance electrified powertrains options and support customers in achieving zero emissions. Isuzu and Cummins will also continue to look for more opportunities to work together and push for global growth.

Koichi Seto, Director of the Board, and Senior Executive Officer at Isuzu noted that this announcement is part of the Isuzu Environmental Vision 2050 plan. That includes the advancement of global environmental actions like reducing greenhouse emissions and securing a sustainable society. “As part of the path to carbon neutrality, it is significant for us to start this joint BEV prototype project in North America,” added Seto. “Through our partnership, we commit to continuing to explore further opportunities in the next-generation power source, including electric powertrain technologies in addition to the existing powertrain collaboration.”

Cummins’ PowerDrive series of powertrains aren’t limited to battery-electric solutions. It also includes plug-in hybrids, which were its first electrified options. One of the first trucks to use this system was a Kenworth T370. With its ability to operate in parallel or series configurations, this plug-in hybrid replaces the conventional transmission and can switch between two hybrid and two all-electric modes in real-time. This optimizes the powertrain for the best efficiency based on the current driving situation. Vehicles equipped with this system can also recharge other vehicles or components like a recovery crane using either the engine or battery.

The PowerDrive plug-in hybrid can quickly switch to its all-electric mode in green zones. It can travel up to 50 miles before the internal combustion engine kicks in. If you need to travel farther, this PHEV is good for up to 300 miles with a full tank and fully charged battery. Cummins says the high efficiency levels of the PowerDrive plug-in hybrid powertrain reduces emissions by 80 percent while fuel costs drop between 40 to 80 percent depending on the vehicle’s drive cycle.

Cummins and Isuzu haven’t revealed the size of the battery or the output of the drivetrain on the battery-electric PowerDrive6000 system. Considering it’ll be used on a medium-duty commercial truck, the pack will be sizable and likely mounted where the fuel tanks are currently located in the internal combustion variant. The truck will likely use a single electric drive motor/generator mounted on the rear axle and have CCS DC charging capability to minimize downtime between trips. As for its total driving range, expect the truck to be able to travel anywhere between 120 to 200 miles on a single charge since it’ll likely be optimized for short-range missions or operations within an urban area

Written by Stefan Ogbac
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