In another sign of the accelerating evolution of the car and truck business, two of the biggest names in diesel engines, Cummins Inc. and Isuzu Motors Ltd., are planning to collaborate on the production of a prototype electric truck this year.
Cummins, based in Columbus, Indiana, and Tokyo-based Isuzu, announced an agreement to create a prototype medium-duty, battery-electric truck for testing in North America.
The announcement said the prototype truck will represents the first zero-emissions solution developed through the Isuzu Cummins Powertrain Partnership, which was formed in May 2019 prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We are excited to be working with Isuzu to accelerate decarbonization within the partnership,” said Amy Davis, vice president, and president, New Power at Cummins. “It’s through our joint commitment in innovation that we provide our customers with safe, reliable zero-emissions solutions.”
Koichi Seto, director of the Board, and senior executive officer at Isuzu said the projects fits with “Isuzu Environmental Vision 2050,” which calls for the company to reduce greenhouse emissions.
“As part of the path to carbon neutrality, it is significant for us to start this joint BEV prototype project in North America. 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,” Seto said.
Cummins is attacking the zero-emission challenge on multiple fronts, not just using battery-electric powertrains.
In 2020, it began working with Navistar International Corp. to accelerate the development of hydrogen fuel cell-powered big rigs, formally described as Class 8 trucks. That project was financed, in part, with a $7 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy’s “H2@Scale” initiative to develop affordable hydrogen production, storage, distribution and use.
Additionally, Cummins Inc. unveiled a heavy-duty truck equipped with fuel-cell and battery-electric power in 2019. Executives said at the time strategy for the company was to provide customers in the future with a broad portfolio of power options, from diesel and natural gas, hybrids, to battery electric and hydrogen fuel-cell solutions.
Demand for EV trucks growing quickly
The announcement comes as truck makers, such as General Motors, Ford and Stellantis implement plans to step up production of electric vehicles to meet the demand from parcel delivery services operated by Amazon, UPS, Federal Express and others.
Earlier this month, Stellantis, an established partner of Cummins which has supplied diesel engines to Ram for years, announced it will build hundreds of commercial vans with electric drivetrains for Amazon.
Cummins, according to the joint announcement by the two companies, will integrate the Cummins PowerDrive6000 electric drive into Isuzu’s F-Series truck and will pilot the truck with prominent North American fleets beginning in 2022.
Following a successful demonstration and pilot phase, Isuzu will explore opportunities to commercialize medium-duty, battery-electric trucks with Cummins-powered systems across North America.