Cummins Inc. and Isuzu Motors Limited recently announced an agreement to build a prototype medium-duty battery electric demonstration truck for the North American market. This will be the first zero-emissions truck to be produced by the Isuzu Cummins Powertrain Partnership (ICPP) which was formed in May of 2019. The companies intend to integrate pilot trucks into vehicle fleets beginning in 2022.
Should the demonstration prove successful, Isuzu will then explore opportunities to commercialize medium-duty, battery-electric trucks with fully electric Cummins drive systems in North America. “We are excited to be working with Isuzu to accelerate decarbonization within the partnership,” said Amy Davis, Vice President and President of New Power at Cummins. “It’s through our joint commitment in innovation that we provide our customers with safe, reliable zero-emissions solutions.”
The truck will be based on an Isuzu F-Series chassis and feature a Cummins PowerDrive6000 powertrain. Cummins first released the PowerDrive6000 in 2018 as a plug-in hybrid with a pure electric range of 50 miles (80 kilometers). Projected range of the Isuzu-based trucks with this all-electric version of the PowerDrive system are not yet available.
The plug-in hybrid version of the PowerDrive system is capable of both series and parallel drive modes. During series operation, the electric motor is the sole provider of propulsion. In parallel mode, the engine and electric motor will work in concert to power the drive wheels. According to Cummins, series operation is best suited to low-speed conditions, while parallel mode is ideal for highway speeds.
The plug-in hybrid system can also provide additional power in instances where higher energy levels are required, such as climbing a grade or overtaking. The PowerDrive unit does not feature a conventional transmission but is capable of seamlessly alternating between the two drive modes.
“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,” said Koichi Seto, board director and senior executive officer at Isuzu. “As addressed in Isuzu Environmental Vision 2050, we will advance global environmental actions including reducing greenhouse emissions and securing a prosperous and 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.”