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Cummins to Produce Light-Duty Diesels at Columbus Engine Plant, DaimlerChrysler the Major Customer

Cummins has selected its Columbus (Indiana) Engine Plant (CEP) as the production facility for its new family of light-duty, clean-diesel engines, which the company plans to begin manufacturing by no later than 2010. (Earlier post.)

DaimlerChrysler will be the major customer for the engine, which will be designed to power vehicles below 8,500 pounds gross vehicle weight for a number of automotive applications.

We will be manufacturing a great new product that will increase fuel efficiency by 30 percent or more [over comparable gasoline-powered vehicles], thus saving energy and making us less dependent on foreign oil. And, this light-duty diesel engine will provide Cummins with the opportunity to develop a completely new market with our industry-leading technology.

—Tim Solso, Cummins Chairman and CEO

The concept for this product is the result of a nine-year partnership between Cummins and the US Department of Energy that has been developing an engine family with a 4.2-liter V6 and a 5.6-liter diesel V8 that will meet EPA Tier 2 and CARB LEV 2 emissions standards.



John Ard

This is great news, but with the current price disparity between gas and diesel (diesel is 58 cents more per gallon here in Montevallo, AL) I doubt this engine will see service outside of the Dodge Ram or Dakota. Also, how will this affect the Mercedes Blutec and the plans to use that 3.0 in the Cherokee?


John Ard,
Looks like DaimlerChrysler is hedging bets. If BlueTec does not come through as expected, they have this for the US/NA market.


It is likely they want more than one source of powerplants if there is a production problem (Union strike, natural disaster, freak event, etc). Another aspect to consider is that BlueTec is likey geared towards cars and light duty pickups/SUVs/vans. They may go Cummins for medium duty trucks. One other possibility for DaimlerChrysler is to combine the Cummins engine, with BlueTec (possibly improved) later on.

Rafael Seidl

John -

a premium of 58 cents per gallon of diesel sounds like it might be a local anomaly. Here are (accurate?) US government numbers on current regional and national averages for prices at the pump:

The diesel premium appears to be between 5% and 15% relative to gasoline, about 10% on average. Considering that diesel contains about 12% more energy by volume, this means consumer prices per BTU are very similar for these fuels. This is different from most of Europe, where diesel fuel actually enjoys a discount of 0-10% per liter (varies by country). This difference in fuel taxation strategies is why no-one seriously expects US diesel market share to ever aproach European levels.

Note, however, that lean-burn diesel engines are more energy efficient than stoichiometric spark ignition designs. However, the former also cost more to purchase, especially once a DPF and SCR unit become de facto mandatory. Meanwhile, SI engine designers are mastering various new tricks - some more expensive than others - and steadily narrowing the fuel economy gap. Nevertheless, for the foreseeable future, diesel engines should continue to be the most economical propulsion technology at comparable fun-to-drive levels, at least for medium-to-large vehicles.


Btw, flex-fuel fans: depending on water content, E85 contains at least 25% *less* energy per gallon than gasoline, so it is competitive on price only if it is discounted to roughly the same extent. The link below suggests discounts vary widely (2-24%) between individual gas stations. One in NM even charges a 21% premium, unless that's a typo. You may want shop around before filling up on E85; even then, you'll be paying more per mile and suffer a smaller operating radius. You need to decide if the national security/GHG upsides of E85 overcompensate for that.

By contrast, biodiesel (FAME) and mineral diesel have similar energy density. According to the most recent DOE report (June 06), blends up to B20 are priced about the same as mineral diesel but B99 is much more expensive.

Rafael Seidl

Allen Z -

it's simpler than that. Mercedes isn't going to ship engines produced in Europe across the pond for assembly in the US - especially since the EU and US variants of a given engine design are anyhow spearate products because of the different engine control maps etc.

The Bluetec technology will likely have to be applied to Cummins engines in order to meet LDV emissions regs. SCR systems do not require any changes to the engine control map. Given the large displacements, the units will be applied to SUVs and pick-up trucks, perhaps a few large sedans and full-size vans as well. We'll see.

Sid Hoffman

As for the Mercedes Bluetec engines, aren't those only 2.0 and 3.0 liters? The Cummins appears to be 4.2 and 5.6 liters. This gives DC a range of 2.0, 3.0, 4.2, and 5.6 liter engines. If diesel suddenly gains a lot of popularity, they're in a fantastic position by having 4 different diesel engines at their disposal.



Do you have any idea what a flex-fuel engine can do when built to take advantage of the high octane? I have looked for the information, but all I get are generic answers and not hard numbers. I have found the chevy flex-fuel in brazil turns the compression all the way up to 12.6:1 which I think would help compensate for the lower BTU content. I also wonder what the numbers on the Saab will do. I have heard straight ethanol has the possibility to go all the way to 15:1 which could really close the gap with a diesel motor.

I am not interested in running ethanol in a gas engine, but an engine purpose-built might make sense.


E85 is great...for a race car.


It's good they're not putting all their eggs in one basket.


I'm a bit disappointed this is DCX, only because they were already going to diesels anyway and I was hoping another major would be bringing diesels too.

I strongly suspect the V8 version will replace the inline 6 in the Ram 3/4 and 1 ton trucks in a couple years. They seem too close in power and displacement to coexist. It sounds to me like the Ram 1/2 ton and Durango will be getting the V6 diesel, maybe the V8 as an option. I would not be surprised if the Dakota gets the V6 but not the V8. I don't see either engine going into sedans or coupes, but who knows.


I hope it paves the way for a diesel hybrid. A Charger R/T would be nice.


For hauling/towing applications (which is due to huge numbers of towed pleasure crafts in US - a 30 million+ market) diesel is so-o-o-o-y better then gasoline. I hope EPA and CARB will lower their diesel emission exemptions to middle-sized light-duty vehicles from current only heavy-duty ones. For passenger vehicles same emission caps for diesel and gasoline engines should stand.

Rafael Seidl

Sid -

Bluetec is an engine technology, not a specific engine design. Btw, DCX has a lot more than four diesel engines in its portfolio. However, given the high cost of DPF+SCR systems, expect to see Bluetec applied only to the more expensive, high-displacement models in this first round.

JRod -

I'm not aware of any production vehicle that is already designed to use E85 as its primary fuel. The distribution network is still too patchy, and carmakers have so far been building bivalent flex-fuel systems primarily to avoid falling foul of CAFE.

By contrast, GM's German subsidiary Opel is already shipping monovalent-plus CNG vehicles; their engines feature compression ratios of 12.5 and higher specific power. Gasoline operation is intended for emergency use only and requires severe retardation of the ignition to avoid engine knock. The increased ratio buys them a few percent in fuel economy compared to the previously used bivalent layout.

E100 also features a high octane number, though lower than that of CNG. E85 is closer to regular gasoline than
to E100 in this regard, so a monovalent-plus E85 concept would buy you little.

pialwtaafi -

not sure who you mean here - Cummins or DCX?

Zach -

The article only refers to one specific production agreement between Cummins and DCX. GM has actually shipped about 600,000 of its own 6.6L Duramax diesel engines in its full-size trucks by now. DCX is not the only company that sees merit in diesel engines.

Scott58 -

if you've got a 4+ liter engine, you typically don't need the additional torque of a hybrid system. Citroen PSA applies stop-start microhybridization to some of its smaller diesels to eliminate PM emissions in city driving - fuel economy is relatively good already anyhow.

Andrey -

if you can afford a pleasure boat, you can afford the DPF + SCR. No regulatory agency in the world has ever reduced emissions limits, except when changing the test procedure such that the net effect is a tightening.



Yes, GM and Ford have shipped many thousands of diesel V8s for use in 3/4 and 1 ton pickup trucks. For a limited time those engines were also available in their largest SUVs. Those diesels are comparable to the 5.9L I-6 Cummins used in the 3/4 and 1 ton Dodge Ram. Neither one has offered diesels in anything smaller than a 3/4 ton pick up many years. Neither has DCX, until now. I just want to see more diesels in the vastly more common vehicles like 1/2 ton pickups and midsize SUVs. This announcement indicates that DCX will be bringing those out. I am still hoping that GM, Ford, or Toyota will also. At this point it's starting to look like Honda could be the next player to bring diesels to the US market in something smaller than a 3/4 ton pickup (apart from the longstanding VW cars offered here, but not for 2007, and the DCX made Jeep CRD).


The rest of the planet seems to be able to get by with 1.5-3L diesels...why here on bizarro island is 6+liters necessary and/or the only available option? Theres a huge subset out here that aint cowboys, ranchers, farmers, RVers, or "petro sportsmen".

Rafael Seidl

Fred -

simple answer: emissions regs. Vehicles above 8500lbs GVW are considered medium-duty and allowed to emit more. For trucks weighing between 6000 and 8500lbs are HLDTs (h for humongous, presumably), carmakers have until 2009 to comply with Tier 2 Bin 5.

Now that EPA and CARB have apparently acquiesced in the introduction of SCR systems, expect diesel engines options to once again become available on selected lighter vehicles as well, starting in 2008 - in all 50 states. However, don't hold your breath for too many mid-sized diesels in the US, where diesel and gasoline cost about the same on a per-BTU-basis. The primary market for diesel engines will be trucks and SUVs.

bruno cipolla

U.S. diesel engine plant....
It might be that Daimler Chrysler is betting on (hedging against) a possible strong devaluation of the dollar versus the Euro in the next few many financial analysts do.
Building good engines in the US would then become very financially sound, some could be even exported to europe.


Thanx Rafael-
But didnt MB just miss T2B5 NOx by .01g/m with a 3.2L without Adblue? If thats the case then surely slightly to much smaller displacements using the same tek should be a cinch.

Rafael Seidl

Fred -

MB owns some patents on SCR. I'm not sure it owns any on NOx store catalysts. It tried them only because EPA and CARB insisted - they have been decidedly lukewarm on an emissions system that needs refills.

The general expectation is that NOx store catalysts will be used for the smaller engine types, as you suggest, once the refineries actually get rid of the sulphur in the diesel fuel. But MB sells premium cars, and those typically feature large displacement engines (especially in the US). The A and B class aren't even available across the pond.

That doesn't mean Chrysler couldn't leverge MB's expertise with NOx store catalysts. In Europe, the Caliber is already available with a diesel engine (bought from VW), though it meets EU emissions without NOx aftertreatment.

Scott V

Cummins was desperate to utilize the Columbus, Indiana plant after they moved all the heavy duty engine production to the recently modernized Jamestown, New York engine plant outside of Buffalo. The new 4.2 liter V6 & 5.6 liter V8 will most likely replace the current 6.2 liter inline 6 Diesel for the Dodge Pickup primarily for packaging considerations & secondly because Americans want the American built, Cummins Turbo Diesel in an American pickup truck. Often, Globalization has to compromise with National tastes. The 2007 U. S. Commercial Vehicle Diesel regulations can be met without urea injection, the challenge is 2010. The EPA has not warmed up to Urea for Commercial Vehicles – just yet. Medium & Heavy Duty diesels need substantially more Bluetec (urea)to go down the road than cars & light trucks. Any percentage of Blutec is a decrease in fuel economy. Remember, all costs are passed onto the consumer – if you bought it a truck brought it.


I'm surprised that Cummins didn't try to work out a deal with Honda to use Honda's new "plasma reactor" technology to reduce diesel exhaust emissions so it meets even CARB 2009 certification for such engines.

It will be lots of fun to see how other automakers react when Honda starts to sell vehicles equipped with CARB 2009-certified 2.2-liter I-4 and 3.2-liter V-6 turbodiesel engines, probably by fall 2008. I'd buy a Honda CR-V with 35% better fuel mileage than the gasoline engine used on the 2007 model! :-)

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