The first prototype will be used in Vancouver for demonstration purposes and the other two will go to fleet operators for commercial hauling before the end of the year 2000.
Cummins will supply its newest engine for heavy-duty trucks, the ISX, and will undertake a market study and preliminary business plan for diesel truck engines fuelled with natural gas.
Westport will be responsible for modifying Cummins' ISX 400 engine to work with Westport's patented High Pressure Direct Injection technology for natural gas. Westport will also install the modified engine, along with a liquefied natural gas fuel tank and fuel compressor, in each of the three trucks.
"This is our second program with Cummins and a significant development in our strategy of developing an environmentally cleaner, cost-effective alternative to diesel fuel for trucks," said David Demers, Westport's president.
"There were over 238,000 heavy-duty truck engines sold in North America in 1998. Cummins had a 32% share of that market. This is a great opportunity for us and we will be working hard to prove the capabilities of the technology for this sector."
A two-year Memorandum of Understanding between Westport and Cummins governs the project. If the trucks perform as expected, the agreement calls for Cummins and Westport to develop a business plan to commercialize Westport's technology.
Westport lab tests show that natural gas fuelled diesel trucks using the High Pressure Direct Injection technology will produce significantly lower emissions than regular diesel trucks while retaining diesel's power, performance and fuel economy characteristics.