Are off-highway markets ready to take on the electrification challenge?

downtown city construction scene

Energy diversity, connectivity and automation are key trends transforming commercial industries across the globe. For off-highway markets, tough working conditions, long shift hours and high vehicle utilization are some challenges they face every day. As our industries evolve to mitigate these challenges, the Cummins portfolio is also evolving. Cummins continues to innovate its diesel and natural gas solutions, while also investing in electrified power options.

As the world looks for breakthroughs that will solve the problems of today and tomorrow, here are three ways in which electrification solutions for off-highway markets are challenging the impossible:

  1. Creating improved working environments – Equipment that runs for long hours in contained zones can contribute to high emission concentration. Areas such as ports, airports and distribution centers can suffer from reduced air quality. Electrifying the equipment found in these zones creates an improved, more pleasant working environment by reducing the exposure of vehicle operators to emissions. Earlier this year, Cummins announced that it will supply electric powertrains for Kalmar terminal tractors in Europe. The batteries on board are designed to take advantage of opportunity charging between multi-shift operations common in these settings and offer the benefit of reduced emissions.
  2. Facilitating new technologies –  Electric applications are leading the way in automation and development of anti-collision technology. Large numbers of sensors and sophisticated control systems contribute to benefits in reliability, performance as well as reductions in operating costs. Over the next decade, population growth in urban areas is expected to rise dramatically. Automating a city’s tube line will improve services and reduce downtime. In the dark, confined environment of the underground, anti-collision technology will promote safer operation of vehicles when expanding lines to cope with additional passengers commuting into the city center. 
  3. Building construction sites with reduced noise – Construction sites are inherently noisy. The clanking of steel, the beeps on equipment for safety, and often, the hum of the engines from the equipment contribute to very noisy environments. The recently unveiled electric mini excavator prototype powered by Cummins runs purely on battery power, not only reducing noise pollution but providing the possibility of longer working hours, due to reduced noise restrictions, meaning jobs can be completed faster.

For some working environments, electrified power solutions can present opportunities to improve the ways we work and even how we tackle new jobs, allowing operation in ways we didn’t once imagine. In preparing for tomorrow, we must invest today in diverse powers, like electrification and diesel, and technologies, like automation and connectivity, to meet the ever-evolving needs of our world.

This journey is only just beginning. Understanding, embracing and enabling these trends are how Cummins is shaping our strategy. Follow along as Cummins develops the next generation of electrified systems for off-highway applications. 
 

Cummins electric excavator
Cummins featured this electric prototype mini excavator at its stand this week at the BAUMA show in Munich, Germany. Powered by Cummins BM4.4E flexible battery modules (4.4 kWh each), the 3.5-ton excavator prototype is designed to support a full work shift and charge in under three hours. The machine eliminates all gaseous emissions and substantially reduces noise, making it ideal for use in urban and sub-urban construction.

 

Cummins Office Building

Cummins Inc.

Cummins is a global power leader that designs, manufactures, sells and services diesel and alternative fuel engines from 2.8 to 95 liters, diesel and alternative-fueled electrical generator sets from 2.5 to 3,500 kW, as well as related components and technology. Cummins serves its customers through its network of 600 company-owned and independent distributor facilities and more than 7,200 dealer locations in over 190 countries and territories.

Spot the Difference: Lithium Ion Versus Lead Acid Battery Electric Technology

Spot the difference: Lithium ion versus lead acid battery electric technology
As a provider of electrified power solutions, Cummins regularly receives questions on technologies facilitating the adoption of electric vehicles. One question that often comes up is ‘what is the difference between lead acid and lithium ion, and when should each battery type be used?’ 

Here are the top 3 differences between the two battery chemistries and some examples of which technology to opt for when going electric.

Lithium ion vs Lead acid battery
Full size infographic featured at the end of the article.

1. Cost 
This is usually the subject at the forefront of everyone’s minds and a key driver for deciding ‘what is the right product for my fleet?’. As is often the case, it is not a simple answer and cost effectiveness is really dependent on the needs of your application. Lead acid is a popular cost-effective battery chemistry, available in large quantities with little worries relating to security of the supply and in a variety of off the shelf pack sizes. Lead acid is great fit for large scale stationary applications where space is abundant and energy requirements are low. However, when you start looking at price in terms of the power or range, lithium ion technology can often be a more favorable option.

2. Energy and Range 
Comparing the two chemistries side-by-side, lithium ion achieves an energy density of 125-600+ Wh/L versus 50-90 Wh/L for lead acid batteries. In other words, if you were to drive the same distance using each type of batteries in an identical vehicle, the lead acid battery could take up to 10 times the volume that the lithium ion would, and it’s also heavier. Therefore, using lithium ion batteries allows space for other important payloads, for example, more passengers in a bus or more parcels in an electric delivery truck. A high energy density also affords the vehicle a much longer range, meaning the user does not need to charge as often when powered by lithium ion technologies. 

3. Charging 
Charging a lead-acid battery can take more than 10 hours, whereas lithium ion batteries can take from 3 hours to as little as a few minutes to charge, depending on the size of the battery. Lithium ion chemistries can accept a faster rate of current, charging quicker than batteries made with lead acid. This is critical for time-sensitive applications where vehicles have high utilization and fewer break intervals. In the case of a terminal tractor, every minute that the ship is docked at the port has financial repercussions on the fleet owner, so the battery must be charged quickly during breaks to load the ship.

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to batteries, rather, it is about providing the right electric solution to meet the needs of the application. Cummins designs and sells flexible, scalable lithium ion batteries as a prime source of power for commercial vehicles, and other mobile and stationary applications. 

Learn more about how Cummins is leading the charge in electrification with its lithium ion battery portfolio and more news about electrified power

Lithium ion vs lead acid battery

 

Cummins Office Building

Cummins Inc.

Cummins is a global power leader that designs, manufactures, sells and services diesel and alternative fuel engines from 2.8 to 95 liters, diesel and alternative-fueled electrical generator sets from 2.5 to 3,500 kW, as well as related components and technology. Cummins serves its customers through its network of 600 company-owned and independent distributor facilities and more than 7,200 dealer locations in over 190 countries and territories.

3 Things to Know About Charging Your Electric Bus

Electric buses offer a promising opportunity for the future of transit. All-electric buses produce zero emissions, require significantly less maintenance, leverage connectivity and advanced telematics and offer cost savings compared to other powertrain systems.

With the recent launch of the GILLIG Battery Electric Bus, powered by Cummins, there are more opportunities than ever before for cities and organizations to explore the switch to electric vehicles. It is new territory in many applications, including public transit, school systems, and more — but exciting developments and rapidly advancing technology promise new opportunity for transformational innovation.

Managing an electric bus fleet can spark a variety of questions, including concerns about charging the vehicles properly and efficiently. Even though it sounds simple, there are many considerations beyond just plugging in. After all, most drivers have never had to charge a vehicle before! But don’t fret — we’ve broken down the three things you need to know about charging your electric bus.

Three things to know about charging your electric bus.

Vehicle range
Today’s electric buses offer impressive range, but any vehicle’s range can be affected by many factors, including weather, terrain, speed, number of stops, and even bus model.

All drivers should be aware of their vehicle’s average working range. It’s also important to calculate your vehicle’s range capabilities in a variety of situations and environments by collaborating with logistics professionals and engineers, so you’re always prepared for the road ahead. With this knowledge on hand, you’ll be able to plan routes and charging stops more effectively.

Charging infrastructure
As we continue to push forward into the future of electrification, many cities are actively improving the availability of charging stations. For example, Portland, Oregon plans to invest over $10M in a more robust charging infrastructure.

Infrastructure planning is an in-depth process that all transit agencies must take on when preparing to adopt or accommodate an electric fleet. City urban transit planners should also have a deep understanding of the vehicles a city plans to use. Drive cycles, routes and charge time will all help determine the quantity and location of charging stations.

Cities and transit authorities must thoughtfully prepare for the future of electrification beyond investing in just the vehicles themselves. With proper preparation, electrified transit promises to be a transformational opportunity in many cities across the world.

Route plan
Range anxiety is a common concern among electric vehicle adopters. Many new EV drivers worry about how far a vehicle will travel on a single charge, and they may be nervous about trusting even the most accurate, data-supported range estimates.

Careful route planning maximizes your drive time, ensuring you’ll get where you’re going and get power when you need it. Fleet managers work with engineers and researchers to carefully predict range based on the variety of factors mentioned earlier. Using that insight, fleet managers strategically plan routes, including stops and charging, to make sure you’re never left without a charge.

By considering all contributing factors, you’ll maximize the efficiency, safety and reliability of your electric bus and enjoy the many benefits that come with adopting an electric fleet. 

Learn more about how Cummins is leading the charge in electrification, and check out the launch of the Cummins-powered GILLIG Battery Electric Bus.

Cummins Office Building

Cummins Inc.

Cummins is a global power leader that designs, manufactures, sells and services diesel and alternative fuel engines from 2.8 to 95 liters, diesel and alternative-fueled electrical generator sets from 2.5 to 3,500 kW, as well as related components and technology. Cummins serves its customers through its network of 600 company-owned and independent distributor facilities and more than 7,200 dealer locations in over 190 countries and territories.

How Do Fully Electric Vehicles Work?

Fully electric vehicles (EVs) may seem like the cars, vans, and buses of the future, but they have actually been around since 1834. However, it wasn’t until recently that they gained popularity due to increased affordability and public desire to reduce carbon emissions.

To understand more about electric vehicles and the opportunities they present, it’s important to look at what they are and how they work.

What is a fully electric vehicle?

Fully electric vehicles (EVs) are powered by an electric motor instead of a conventional internal combustion engine (ICE). The drivetrain, which supplies power to the vehicle’s axles, gets power from a collection of rechargeable batteries.

You may be familiar with hybrid vehicles, such as the Toyota Prius or other popular consumer models, but EVs are different. While hybrid vehicles run on both gasoline and battery power, using an internal combustion engine and a battery electric drive system, EVs only run on a battery electric drive system.

How does an electric vehicle work?

It all starts with the battery supplying electrical energy to the stator, which is the stationary part of the motor’s rotary system. In turn, this electrical energy powers coils within the stator to create rotating magnetic fields that spin the rotor. This mechanical energy turns the gears of the car, which then rotate the wheels.

How EV works graphic

None of this movement is possible without an electrical charge. An EV is charged by plugging into a charging station or wall port. Passenger cars can charge using a 240-volt outlet similar to the outlet that powers a clothes dryer. Trucks, buses or delivery vans require a direct current charge of 150kw or 350kw.

An EV’s working range depends on the vehicle. A package delivery van featuring the Cummins electric drivetrain can go over 120 miles on a single charge. Cummins’ AEOS semi-truck model has a range of about 100 miles, with potential for 300 miles in the extended range version.

While there is still plenty of room to grow, electric vehicle charging stations are becoming more embedded in urban infrastructure, making fully electric vehicles a viable option for urban transit, package delivery and school buses.

What does this look like in the real world?

Organizations across the globe are beginning to explore fully electric fleet options. School systems, public transit, postal delivery and other industries see great opportunity to benefit from the unique features of electric transportation.

Electric School Buses
The PowerDrive 7000 school bus, for example, is a recent development from Cummins’ PowerDrive electrification business unit. This all-electric bus cuts maintenance costs, eliminates emissions and matches performance of a conventional ICE bus.

The bus charges to 100% in under eight hours and features a top speed of over 65 mph. It also incorporates telematics and control software so fleet managers can analyze and optimize routes effectively.

Electric Delivery Trucks
Delivery and mail systems are also seeing promising results in recent tests of fully electric fleet systems. Cummins has entered a partnership with the United States Postal Service and will supply eight fully electric delivery trucks in 2019. We’ve previously executed tests with EV delivery trucks, resulting in great feedback from drivers.

Electrification is at the forefront of global climate change solutions. Cummins has been a leader in innovation for 100 years, and we’re proud to be driving the industry forward as the leading provider of electrified power solutions.

For more information on how Cummins is powering an “always on” world with electrification, read our news about electrified power.
 

Cummins Office Building

Cummins Inc.

Cummins is a global power leader that designs, manufactures, sells and services diesel and alternative fuel engines from 2.8 to 95 liters, diesel and alternative-fueled electrical generator sets from 2.5 to 3,500 kW, as well as related components and technology. Cummins serves its customers through its network of 600 company-owned and independent distributor facilities and more than 7,200 dealer locations in over 190 countries and territories.

Bloomberg NEF Summit - The future of powertrain and the adoption of electric

The ever-increasing interest in alternative fuels continues to prompt questions as to what the future of transport will look like and how this will shape our world. Speaking at the 2019 Bloomberg New Energy Finance Summit in New York, New York, Julie Furber, Vice President - Electrified Power at Cummins, shared her thoughts on the impact electrification has had in industrial and commercial vehicle markets. Although Furber can’t see into the future, she can share how Cummins is preparing itself for the changes ahead:

“We [Cummins] want to partner with our customers to get the right solution for them and we’d like to partner with the regulators to ensure that regulations are consistent, clear and leave flexibility around technology.”

Photo of Julie Furber at BNEF conference
Julie Furber at the BNEF Summit.

Furber makes it clear that Cummins’ strategy will be to develop the most efficient powertrain solutions that comply and push regulations forward, so Cummins can fulfill its customers’ requirements and minimize the impact to the environment. Offering alternatives to its customers will be key to Cummins’ success as the path to a fully electric-powered world is not a straight one; it’s filled with twists and turns and there are multiple challenges that need to be overcome. As an example, Furber mentions some of the challenges faced by natural gas, where the slow adoption of this alternative fuel source in North America has sparked a chicken or the egg debate as to whether refueling infrastructure comes first and sales of natural gas vehicles follow or vice versa. 

Speaking of eggs, Cummins can’t put them all in one basket. The adoption of electrification is reliant on multiple factors: battery prices, the development of charging infrastructure, subsidies and financing options and, above all, regulations, which could circumvent these challenges and force adoption quickly. As Furber explains, electrification is one of many fuel sources and a one-size- fits-all approach is not the right strategy to take, since the choice of power will be “dependent on the application and on the region the vehicle or equipment is operating in.” 

Electrification is the natural next step for Cummins, a company that pioneered the use of diesel engines and has since transformed itself into a powertrain supplier of choice. With an eye to the future, Furber makes it clear that Cummins will leverage its 100-year tradition of innovation to continue excelling and to partner with original equipment manufacturers, customers and regulators to offer the best solution in the market and to advocate for consistent, technology-neutral regulations worldwide.

No matter the power source, Cummins will be in the driver’s seat of the powertrain evolution.

Cummins Office Building

Cummins Inc.

Cummins is a global power leader that designs, manufactures, sells and services diesel and alternative fuel engines from 2.8 to 95 liters, diesel and alternative-fueled electrical generator sets from 2.5 to 3,500 kW, as well as related components and technology. Cummins serves its customers through its network of 600 company-owned and independent distributor facilities and more than 7,200 dealer locations in over 190 countries and territories.

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