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Current charge time for the 140-kWh battery pack is one hour, but Cummins expects to cut that to a more-palatable 20 min by 2020. (image: Cummins)

Cummins reveals all-electric heavy-duty truck—just ahead of Tesla

Two months after chairman and CEO Tom Linebarger detailed Cummins’ plans to transition from a diesel engine maker to a “power technology” provider (read:, the company is backing up his talk with tangible technology in the form of a fully electric Class 7 demonstration truck. Cummins unveiled the fully operational AEOS on August 29 at its Columbus, IN, technical center, taking onlookers and the trucking industry as a whole by surprise.

The reveal comes just weeks before the wraps are expected to come off of Tesla’s highly anticipated all-electric tractor-trailer. Elon Musk tweeted this past spring that the Tesla Semi truck unveil would take place this September.

The Urban Hauler EV daycab tractor is designed for local deliveries in cities, port or terminal hauling and other short-haul applications, where many experts agree electrification makes more sense for heavy trucks, rather than for long-haul trucking. The concept truck reportedly can travel up to 100 miles (160 km) on a charge, from its 140-kWh battery pack. Current charge time for the battery is one hour, but Cummins expects to cut that to a more-palatable 20 minutes by 2020.

For comparison, Tesla’s yet-to-come electric semi-truck will have a single-charge range of 200-300 miles (320-480 km), according to multiple reports.

To extend the range of its EV truck prototype to about 300 miles, Cummins will offer an engine-generator option, employing its B4.5 or B6.7 engines. The company claims these engine options offer 50% fuel savings compared to today’s diesel hybrids with zero emissions.

Cummins tapped Roush Industries to help design and build the 18,000-lb truck, which has a maximum payload of 44,000 lb (20,000 kg). The aerodynamically shaped AEOS also features low-rolling resistance tires, regenerative braking and potential roof-mounted solar panels to help improve range and cut fuel consumption. Drag is reduced by eliminating the grille and completely sealing the underbody. Opting for an in-cab camera system instead of side mirrors gives the concept a sleeker look, too.

“Cummins will be the leading provider of electrified powertrain in the commercial and industrial markets,” Julie Furber, Cummins Electrification Business Development Executive, said during a previous teleconference. “We will provide the entire electrified powertrain solution as well as some of the most critical components that have the largest impact on performance, quality and power system to deliver the most value to our customers.”

Delivery of its electrified powertrain will begin in 2019, including battery-electric and plug-in hybrids. Cummins is exploring potential partnerships to develop “leading technology” in energy storage, power electronics, traction motor systems and component control for commercial applications.

At the event, Cummins also displayed its latest “near-zero” natural gas engine technology, the X12 and X15 diesel engines, and announced its intentions to introduce a “revolutionary” new heavy-duty diesel engine in 2022.

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