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Cummins-led team awarded $4.5M to develop Class 6 PHEV that reduces fuel use by 50%

Cummins Inc. has been awarded a $4.5-million grant from the US Department of Energy to develop a Class 6 commercial plug-in hybrid electric vehicle that can reduce fuel consumption by at least 50% over conventional Class 6 vehicles. (Earlier post.) When fully loaded, Class 6 vehicles weigh between approximately 19,000 and 26,000 pounds; typical examples include school buses or single-axle work trucks.

With their expertise in internal combustion engines and related products, Cummins researchers will optimize the powertrain by selecting the engine with the best architecture to use as an electric commercial vehicle range extender, using the engine to manage the charge level of the all-electric drive battery pack.

The range extender will be integrated, using advanced vehicle controls, with the electrified powertrain and other applicable technologies.

Ultimately, the researchers aim to demonstrate improved fuel consumption and state of the art drivability and performance regardless of environmental conditions.

Cummins is partnering with PACCAR on the project, and the full team includes representatives from The Ohio State University, National Renewable Energy Laboratory and Argonne National Laboratory.

The close integration and control of the electrified powertrain with an appropriately selected engine is critically important to developing a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle system. We believe that through the team’s efforts we can soon make these innovations commercially available.

—Wayne Eckerle, Vice President, Research and Technology, Cummins

The reduction of fuel consumption will be met or exceeded during a wide-range of drive cycles designed to meet the needs of a wide variety of commercial fleet operators. The fuel reduction goals will be achieved through the use of an electrified vehicle powertrain, optimization of the internal combustion engine operation, and other technologies including intelligent transportation systems and electronic braking.



If 50% fuel consumption reduction can be done for $4.5M, one could wonder why this was not done a long time ago?


Demonstrating that it can be done is one thing, making it economically viable is much more difficult.

John McAvoy

Why wouldn't it be economically viable? Heavy duty diesel electric systems have been around for decades in train locomotives and ships. I do not understand why tractors are not exploiting the clean, instant torque of electric motors in shipyards.


As someone who has driven these class of trucks the downside of such systems is the amount of vibration and jarring bumps the electronics will be subjected effecting durability. Bumps on highways that hardly effect cars can dramatically effect trucks amazingly different. Enough to hurl a 200 lb person from their seat into the roof. I only see hybridization durable if suspension upgrades follow suit which will price out justification doing so. On an Isuzu NPR truck the gas vs diesel price gap is 8K as we speak and doesn't even include the extra ownership repair costs. Diesel exhaust fluid, diesel particulate filter, and rubbish American diesel fuel quality. One bad fuel up can destroy my injector pump (4k) and have to pull injectors to clean up possibly.


It make more sense to implement this hybrid system on a working truck that run 8 hours a day and cost a lot in fuel than to buy a prius hybrid that work 40 minutes a day and anyway consume less to start with.

Henry Gibson

Digital controlled hydraulic motors and pumps can make a hybrid with this type of efficiency at far lower costs and weight and no large battery. This figure can be improved with crankshaft free engines, such as INNAS NOAX, also digital controlled. Artemis has demonstrated most of this in real equipment. Now flywheels from Ricardo demonstrate in co-operation with Artemis this type of operation. Parry people movers uses large steel flywheels.

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