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Cummins CEO: Govt. Must Invest In Gas Alternatives, Too

Pictured are some of the Cummins Inc. vehicles powered with alternative energy. Photo courtesy Cummins.com

Private companies like Cummins Inc. are rushing to meet governments’ demands for energy efficient vehicles — but they need government to fulfill its end of the equation, too.

Tom Linebarger, Cummins CEO, said during a conference call earlier this week that the company continues to work hard on its transition from diesel engines to hybrid engines that don’t emit any carbon dioxide. While Cummins is working with its customers to meet changing government requirements, the company is also waiting on government to help provide needed infrastructure.

And, while some politicians are setting only a 2035 goal to switch from gas-powered engines to electric engines, Linebarger said the actual transition is much more complicated. During testimony before a Congressional committee earlier this year, Tony Satterthwaite, Cummins vice president, said there are environmental benefits that can be achieved today with existing technologies such as advanced diesel and natural gas engines as the infrastructure develops for low- and no-carbon powertrains.

“We will need other investments by governments and other things to get that done,” Linebarger said. “So in the meantime, these interim solutions are going to play a significant role. And how long interim is isn’t clear, and it could be extended. So our view is that natural gas and hybrid and some of these other technologies that we have will really help our customers get through those periods, which, again, could be — we could sell across our range of one billion engines in those ranges before — transition could be one billion engines. I mean it’s a lot of engines over the years, right, across the entire industry, across multi-year. So it’s really important to be thoughtful about those transition technologies just like it is the final solutions.”

Satterthwaite, Cummins vice president, advocated for hydrogen fuels during his congressional testimony, particularly the need for hydrogen fueling stations in the country and government investments in renewable hydrogen technologies. According to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Alternative Fuels Data Center, there are only 46 such fueling stations in the United States, and one of those is in Hawaii.

Cummins is also investing in high efficiency internal combustion engine technologies, utilizing low carbon fuels, hybridization, REEV and ultimately hydrogen fuel cell and battery electric vehicles with zero emissions. Consumers will begin seeing some of these new technologies soon.

“We are definitely working on projects now,” he said. “They are specific. They are very specific. They have launch dates, and they will be launched this — in these next several years. We will have hybrids on the road. We will be selling them through our key strategic OEMs. So hybrids are on the move, as you suggested. And again, their life mostly depends on how the zero carbon solutions come down in cost and durability, reliability and how the infrastructure gets built up, and we will need both. So I think that’s why I said that these transition solutions that are going in place, well, may be in there for a while and they may be in there for a shorter period, depending on which country, which application, which region you’re in because those two things — both the infrastructure and the cost depend on application and, of course, country and how much infrastructure being built. But the hybrid programs are real. They are getting launched. It’s happening now.”

Helping guide those new products will be Jonathan Wood, named last week as Cummins’ vice president of new power engineering.

Based in the United Kingdom, Wood has worked for Cummins for 27 years, most recently as Vice President — Components Engineering. Before his current role, Jonathan served as Executive Director of Research and Engineering for Cummins Emission Solutions. He also spent time as Executive Director of Research and Engineering for Cummins Turbo Technologies (CTT) and director of Asia Engineering for CTT, among other technical leadership roles. He is known for his collaborative approach, keen technical skills, and customer experience.

“As we move toward our goal of zero emissions, we are faced with increasing technology complexities, and we need to continue to shape the technical organization of our business with the right balance of process, startup culture and agility, underpinned with a unifying vision as we innovate and scale,” said Amy Davis, Cummins vice president and president of new power. “Jon’s past experiences ushering in technological changes will serve our customers and our communities well as we navigate through this transition to decarbonized power.”

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