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Cummins makes case for newer trucks, bigger engines


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Truck News / March 26, 2014

A new truck purchased today with the Cummins ISX15 engine rated between 400-450 hp will be 7% more fuel-efficient than the same truck ordered four years ago.

That was the message from Jeff Jones, vice-president, North American engine business for Cummins, when he spoke to trucking journalists prior to the Mid-America Trucking Show.

“If you’ve got a four-year-old truck and you’re contemplating trading it in, the new truck you’re putting into service will be at least 7% more fuel-efficient,” Jones said. “That is a big deal.”

The savings have come in the form of: reduced parasitic horsepower losses; improved combustion efficiencies; SCR optimization; and naturally aspirated air compressors, among other advancements.

Jones cited industry studies that estimate the cost of running a Class 8 truck in the US grossing 80,000 lbs is about $1.65 per mile. Fuel costs about 60 cents per mile, making it the biggest single expense.

“A 7% improvement on what’s more than a third of the operating cost of a vehicle goes straight to the bottom line,” Jones said, adding it could save a fleet about $4,000 per truck each year.

“If you think about fleets that operate hundreds or thousands of trucks, the math is pretty easy to justify in terms of the ROI on a new truck,” he added.

Jones said customers are beginning to realize this, which is one reason order volumes are picking up across the North American Class 8 truck market.

“They know there’ll be a good ROI on new equipment relative to three-, four- and five-year-old trucks being traded in right now,” Jones said.

Cummins officials also made the case for 15L power, which bucks an industry trend towards 13L engines.

“There’s a tangible advantage to 15-litre big bore power,” Jones said, noting the ISX15 leads the industry in terms of market share and volume.

But how can a 15L be more fuel-efficient than a smaller displacement 13L engine? Jones said it’s because: the additional power gives engineers more flexibility when it comes to optimizing performance at low rpms; big bore engines offer higher compression ratios; and because the turbocharging mechanism is simpler in higher displacement engines. The engines are now able to cruise at 1,100-1,300 rpm - unprecedented with 15L power - and when combined with an optimized automated transmission, can equalize fuel efficiency performance across a fleet, Jones said.

He said today’s ISX15 can deliver as much as a 0.5 mpg improvement over the same engine offered four years ago. Combined with the Eaton UltraShift transmission via the SmartAdvantage powertrain, another 3-6% fuel savings can be achieved, Jones added.

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