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Cummins upstages Tesla with electric truck unveiling

Cummins electric powertrain will offer a 100-mile range with up to 300 miles available with extra battery packs.

Class 7 powertrain to have 100-mile range, 75,000-pound GVWR

While the world waits for Tesla to unveil its electric truck in September, one of those industry veterans beat it to the punch. Tesla has been teasing its vehicle with regular tweets and hints from Elon Musk, including one last week that its vehicle may have a range of up to 300 miles. But just weeks before Tesla unveils its prototype, Cummins showed off its own.

The Concept Class 7 Urban Hauler EV was officially unveiled on Tuesday in Columbus, IN. The Aeos 1 features a fully electric powertrain with a state-of-the-art battery pack. The lighter, denser battery design allows for longer range and faster charging, the company said. For customers seeking even longer range, the concept truck includes and “engine-generator” hybrid option, giving uses the ability to integrate Cummins’ smaller B4.5 or B6.7 engines.

Set to come to market in 2019, the truck will have a 100-mile range at launch extendable out to 300 miles with additional battery packs. The extended range plug-in hybrid model available in 2020 with a 300-mile range. The 18,000-pound day cab can be charged in just 1 hour at a 140 kWh charging station. Cummins hopes to reduce that to 20 minutes by 2020. Cummins said the vehicle will have a gross vehicle weight rating of 75,000 pounds.

A Morgan Stanley analysis of the tractor suggests that range may not be an issue at launch. “With an initial projected range of 100 miles before recharging, the most likely applications will be urban deliveries, bus operations, short-haul trucking, and intermodal drayage. Given this, range may not be an issue for this truck from the onset even before the extended range version is released,” it said.

Aeos 1 features a regenerative braking system and the potential for solar panels on the trailer roof to send energy into the battery pack. Aerodynamics are improved by eliminating side mirrors and relying on an in-dash camera system as well as through a streamlined design with improved body and underbody sealing and no front radiator intrusion.

Cummins said that it will offer the electric powertrain, but was not getting into the business of building trucks. The powertrain will be offered to truck manufacturers.

The announcement from Cummins reinforces the belief that electric trucks are a viable option going forward, Morgan Stanley advised.

“We believe autonomous, electric trucks have the potential to transform tucking as we know it by driving up to 70% reduction in operating costs, doubling truck utilization, and driving up to 99% industry consolidation,” the note said. “Despite the headlines, many investors remain dismissive of this potential either citing practical constraints to adoption or believe it will take a very long time to come to fruition. We believe announcements like this from Cummins, the upcoming Tesla reveal and similar announcements from other incumbents indicate how ‘real’ this is and will serve as key mile-markers on the road to the intelligent trucking revolution.”

Cummins also showed off its near-zero natural gas engine technology and super-efficient diesel engines.

The X15 and X12 engines are engineered for optimal performance and power while offering class-leading fuel economy through the use of advanced air handling and fuel system controls, Cummins said. Both engines use a single module aftertreatment for longer maintenance intervals and lower cost of ownership, the company noted.

The natural gas engines offer near-zero emissions and provide nearly equivalent performance to diesel options, Cummins said.

“These new technological innovations build on our 100-year legacy of bringing the best solutions to our customers, driving their success and meeting the evolving demands of their industries and markets,” said Jennifer Rumsey, Chief Technical Officer, Cummins Inc.

“We will harness our global technical footprint to continue to develop a wide variety of power technologies to bring our customers the choice and solutions that enable their success and contribute to a sustainable future.”

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Brian Straight

Brian Straight covers general transportation news and leads the editorial team as Managing Editor. A journalism graduate of the University of Rhode Island, he has covered everything from a presidential election, to professional sports and Little League baseball, and for more than 10 years has covered trucking and logistics. Before joining FreightWaves, he was previously responsible for the editorial quality and production of Fleet Owner magazine and Brian lives in Connecticut with his wife and two kids and spends his time coaching his son’s baseball team, golfing with his daughter, and pursuing his never-ending quest to become a professional bowler.