MATS, LOUISVILLE -- Cummins Tuesday announced a new engine rating and its first telematics program just prior to the Mid-America Trucking Show at the Kentucky Exposition Center in Louisville, March 27-29.

During an event for trucking reporters Tuesday, Cummins officials also emphasized their fuel economy improvements, their investment in technology, and discussed what may lie down the road for the world's largest independent diesel engine maker.

Cummins announced a new ISX15 560-horsepower rating, suited for customers operating with heavy loads or on routes with steep grades, where pulling power and effective engine braking are critical, with 1,850 pounds-feet of peak torque.

Jeff Jones, vice president, Cummins North American engine business. Photo: Evan Lockridge

Jeff Jones, vice president, Cummins North American engine business. Photo: Evan Lockridge

In fact, said Jeff Jones, vice president of Cummins' North American Engine Business, "it actually delivers 585 horsepower for those heavy-haul customers pulling steep grades with heavy loads, not just in western Canada but anywhere in North America." It's available immediately, he said, and Cummins expects all truck OEMs to start offering it during the second or third quarter.

Cummins also announced Connected Diagnostics, a new telematics application being designed to work seamlessly with leading telematics systems. Cummins Connected Diagnostics will give customers expert recommendations for the best action to take when a driver is alerted to an engine system fault. Connected Diagnostics is the first of several telematics-assisted applications that Cummins is developing. 

"We heard clearly from customers, no new hardware, and give us more information, not more data," said Lori Cobb, vice president of customer support. We will make that information available to them through their existing telematics providers, and the app will allow for a more efficient service event."

Cummins Connected Diagnostics will be available in limited production later in 2014, with full production release planned for 2015.

Cummins officials also discussed their fuel economy improvements.

Today's new-truck customers, Jones said, will enjoy at least a 7% fuel economy improvement due to Cummins engine advancements alone. On the ISX15, combustion and system optimization led to a 2% improvement in the 2011-2012 time frame. Last year, reduced parasitics and enhanced low-end torque for downspeeding added a 3.5% improvement. And this year, optimized use of SCR and NAAC means another 2%.

Although the past decade or so has focused on particulate matter and NOx emissions, said Rich Freeland, president of Cummins' Engine Business, "The next battleground is going to be fuel economy. We start in a good place on fuel economy, and we won't sit still," he said, aiming to bring out more new products to increase fuel economy faster than anyone else.

Looking forward, said Jennifer Rumsey, vice president, Heavy Duty, Midrange and Light-Duty Engineering Engine Business, said some of the things Cummins is looking at for the future include additional parasitic reductions (such as variable flow lube pumps and low-viscosity lubricant), improved combustion and air handling (including aftertreatment optimization, piston bowl size and turbocharger efficiency), and waste heat recovery.

Investment counts

Rich Freeland, president of Cummins' engine business. Photo: Evan Lockridge

Rich Freeland, president of Cummins' engine business. Photo: Evan Lockridge

Although last year's $17.3 billion in sales was "essentially flat," Freeland said, last year it introduced 70 new products, grew its technology spend and continued investing in distribution and customer support, to the tune of $2.8 billion over three years. Today its global engine range runs the gamut from 2.8 liters to more than 95 liters, in both diesel and natural gas.

Dave Crompton, vice president of Cummins' Heavy Duty, Midrange and Light Duty Engine Business, said the company's restructuring last year, which focused on industry and market segments rather than by product, has helped the company "create space to continue to invest in technology, capacity and support."

In the on-highway business, he noted, Cummins has expanded to light-duty markets, delivered the new 11.9-liter ISX12 G natural gas engine, and announced a new "clean-sheet" 15-liter engine in China that eventually could prove a platform that will expand to the European and even North American markets.

On the light-duty side, a new 5-liter V-8 is partially aimed at the pickup truck market, and Nissan will offer the engine in its upcoming, redesigned 2015 Titan. But it also plays well in the lower end of the medium-duty market, such as in walk-in vans, Crompton said.

He noted that Cummins is celebrating the 25th anniversary this year of its partnership with Ram, and at its MATS booth, the company has both an original truck with a 5.9-liter I-6 and a special anniversary edition Ram with a current 6.7-liter Turbo Diesel.

"The peak torque on that engine from 1985 is less that the idle torque available on the engine in the 25th anniversary truck," he said.