Cummins buys Brammo electric-drivetrain group for future electric semi


Cummins Urban Hauler Tractor concept

Cummins Urban Hauler Tractor concept

Enlarge Photo

Cummins has long been known for its diesel engines, but the company recently revealed its first concept truck using an all-electric powertrain.

The Urban Hauler Tractor debuted last month and Cummins said it previewed a production model that could arrive by the end of this decade.

Now, the diesel-engine maker officially diversified its portfolio with the acquisition of the Brammo electric-drivetrain company.

DON'T MISS: Cummins electric semi truck: traditional maker takes on Tesla

While the firm was founded by Craig Bramscher in 2002 to build high-performance cars, it quickly turned its attention to electric motorcycles. Polaris purchased the motorcycle portion of Brammo in 2015.

The company thereafter focused exclusively on battery packs and electric drivetrains, and Cummins plans to integrate those operations into its new Electrification Business, according to The Portland Business Journal.

Cummins' acquisition of Brammo sends a clear signal many traditional engine makers are quickly working to refocus their future into electric powertrains as emission regulations tighten around the world.

 

Cummins Urban Hauler Tractor concept

Cummins Urban Hauler Tractor concept

Enlarge Photo

The company's CEO, Tom Linebarger, said Cummins must own "key elements" of the electrification network to emerge as a dominant player, much like it has with diesel and natural-gas powertrains.

With the Urban Hauler Tractor's announcement, Cummins said the electric powertrain includes a 140-kilowatt-hour battery pack to provide 100 miles of range.

However, the company will experiment with regenerative braking systems and solar panels as ways to extend the range.

READ THIS: Missing piece in global vehicle emission puzzle: heavy trucks

Even if the truck itself isn't ready by 2020, Cummins believes the powertrain will be complete.

Additionally, the truck's electric powertrain can be paired with a diesel engine to act as a range extender, he said.

The electric and plug-in semi-truck segment will face fresh competition when Tesla reveals its own all-electric semi.

 

Teaser for Tesla semi truck debuting in September

Teaser for Tesla semi truck debuting in September

Enlarge Photo

However, Model 3 production woes have given the company no choice but to push the electric-semi truck's reveal to November; CEO Elon Musk had originally promised the truck would be revealed in September.

Long-distance hauling remains a difficult segment for pure electric vehicles because the energy required to haul 50,000 pounds of truck and freight over long distances is substantial.

Tesla's electric-semi truck may boast 200 to 300 miles of range, yet that hardly compares to the range one tank of diesel fuel permits.

CHECK OUT: Toyota to study Mirai-derived fuel-cell tech for heavy-duty trucks

Toyota also announced it will begin testing its Project Portal semi truck, which uses a fuel-cell powertrain with 200 miles of range.

Before semi trucks move to an all-electric powertrain, "last-mile" trucks will see deployment—light- and medium-duty trucks mostly designed for parcel delivery.

Nissan has sold thousands of its small e-NV200 electric delivery van, for instance, using the underlying technology of the Leaf electric car.

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