Cummins new plug-in hybrid powertrain offers big drop in fuel consumption & emissions


Plug-in hybrids aren’t just for compact passenger cars anymore.

Cummins unveiled a plug-in hybrid electric powertrain at the 2018 IAA Commercial Vehicle Show in Hannover, Germany for medium and heavy-duty applications.

The hybrid PowerDrive, which offers both parallel and series capabilities, was featured center stage at Cummins booth in a Kenworth T370 utility truck.

The PowerDrive replaces the conventional transmission and switches in real time between two hybrid and two pure electric modes, optimizing the powertrain for the best fuel economics in a various driving conditions.

The vehicle is also configured with exportable grid quality electric power to recharge vehicles and a recovery crane operating on either electric or engine power take-off.

The Cummins PowerDrive system has travelled more than six million miles in a fleet setting in the U.S. and China, and plans are in the works to introduce it soon to the European market. Flexible architecture permits the PowerDrive to be combined with various sizes of diesel or natural gas engines and battery pack outputs.

Cummins is manufacturing its own lithium-ion battery packs.Cummins is manufacturing its own lithium-ion battery packs.

The hybrid shifts between pure electric for environmentally sensitive areas with a 50-mile range and hybrid for jobs requiring more than 300 miles. It operates as a hybrid in either series or parallel configuration modes.

Series is better suited to low road speeds such as urban driving (stop/start conditions), while parallel is ideal for faster road speeds on the highway, according to Cummins. In a series hybrid, the electric motor is the only means of providing power to the wheels. The motor receives electric power from either the battery pack or from the engine-generator.

In a parallel hybrid, the engine and electric motor combine to provide the power that drives the wheels. The third mode of electric plus comes online when higher energy is required when the system senses gradient climbing or acceleration for overtaking.

A Class 6 truck in the U.S. powered by the PowerDrive with a 50-mile electric range realizes reduced emissions by up to 80 percent compared to conventional vehicles. Similarly, fuel costs are reduced by between 40 to 80 percent depending on the drive cycle.

The Cummins PowerDrive 6000 is paired with a Cummins B6.7 in the Kenworth T370, a Class 6 truck. The vehicle’s gross weight is 33,000 lbs. The service vehicle was commissioned by Cummins to support EV and PHEV vehicle field tests and pilot routes. It showcases three vehicle charging stations: a 100 kW fast charge and two 6.6 kW standard chargers.