August 15, 2022 • By Heavy Duty Trucking Staff 

Cummins X15N natural gas engine offers more power at a lighter weight than Cummins’ 12L natural gas engine.Photo: Cummins

Paccar plans to offer the new Cummins X15N natural gas engine in Kenworth and Peterbilt trucks. The X15N is the first natural gas engine to be specifically designed for heavy-duty truck applications with up to 500 hp output, according to an announcement. The engine will include the integration of the Cummins Clean Fuel Technologies fuel delivery system.

Dig Deeper: Cummins X15N: The Right Engine at the Right Time?

Paccar, Cummins, and several customers, including FedEx Freight and Knight-Swift, will demonstrate the ability to achieve lower carbon emissions for long-haul transport using internal combustion engine technology.

When operating on renewable natural gas, also known as RNG or biomethane, the X15N engine will be able to achieve major reductions in the lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions of Peterbilt and Kenworth trucks. This can range from a 90% reduction to carbon neutral, or even carbon negative, depending on the bio-source and waste feedstock used to produce the fuel.

The new X15N is capable of lower NOx levels than the 2024 EPA and CARB standards. The 1,850 ft-lbs. of peak torque output provided by the X15N will provide optimum performance when paired with Eaton Cummins Automated Transmission Technologies HD and XD Transmission.

The X15N is currently in production and fleet service in China, and plans are to start building the engine in Jamestown, New York, starting in 2024.

“The X15N is essential to our commitment to help customers reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions and to improve NOx,” said Srikanth Padmanabhan, president of Cummins Engine Business. “Importantly for the customer, the X15N will reduce the cost of adopting low-emissions technologies for their fleet, and gives them the confidence to do so.”

Watch: Meet Cummins’ New Natural Gas Truck Engine

July 27, 2022

Check out Kenworth’s all-new medium-duty Class 6 T280 medium-duty truck on the show floor at Work Truck Week 2022, with its attention to driver comfort and car-like driveability teamed with “big-truck” looks.

Erik Kremsner, medium-duty marketing manager for Kenworth, gives us a walk-around of the T280, part of the company’s new line of medium-duty trucks announced in 2021. Plus get highlights of the new vocational hood for the T380V and T480V, and a 4×4 T380 on display at the booth.

Kenworth’s new medium-duty vehicles are designed to serve a variety of applications, including cargo and reefer van, beverage, tow and recovery, utility and government, fuel oil and propane, landscaping, fire and dump and mixer.

Video highlights

  • What’s New About the Kenworth T280?
  • Inside the Cab
  • Light Controls
  • Kenworth T380V and T480V Offerings

Learn More About Kenworth Medium-Duty

July 15, 2022 • By Jack Roberts 

Great Dane says to expect more focus on trailer and refrigeration unit electrification. Photo: Great Dane

There’s no doubt that an ongoing, and accelerating, technology wave has been overtaking trucking. But despite the seemingly daily onslaught of new technologies transforming virtually every aspect of the industry, there is a sense that trailers are somehow lagging behind.

Granted, the bulk of new transportation technologies emerging are clearly focused on the power unit side of the tractor-trailer equation. And it only makes sense to perfect systems such as telematics, alternative fuels and powertrains, safety systems, autonomous control systems, and “smart,” self-learning components on a truck or tractor before further integrating those systems into the trailer behind it.

But sooner, rather than later, this technology wave will sweep trailers up in its path, too. One need only look at the news from Swedish electric/autonomous truck (and now trailer) startup Einride for a glimpse at where technology will soon take trailers.

In the meantime, trailer makers are actively pursuing and developing their own technology curves, often working with third-party tech and telematics providers. For instance, Hyundai Translead last fall announced its HT LinkSense, an open-platform smart trailer solution that is fully integrated with leading telematics partners. Another example: Earlier this year, Wabash launched a new technology alliance with Clarience Technologies focused on trailer applications, including new advanced connectivity applications the companies said will be essential as electric and autonomous vehicles come to market.

And speaking of electrification, look for more focus on trailer and refrigeration unit electrification, according to Great Dane.

Great Dane Electrification Product Manager Colby White believes it won’t be long for all-electric TRUs to become more commonplace in the transportation industry. With fuel prices on the rise and not expected to drop any time soon, he says in an article on Great Dane’s website, an all-electric TRU will no doubt garner more attention by fleet owners as the economic benefits begin to outweigh those of their diesel-powered counterparts.

White also says regenerative braking and solar harvesting are two technologies that show promise for trailers today in the right circumstances.

Trailer-Makers Face Challenges

Trailer manufacturers must grapple with different technology demands than the engineers designing new vehicles and powertrains.

In some ways, these technology demands are as old as the concept of a highway trailer itself. Any new technology must take into account the constant challenge of using stronger, lighter-weight materials that are durable enough for a trailer to last for a decade or more in tough trucking applications.

On top of that, trailer OEs must contend with lingering supply chain issues and associated production delays that still plague manufacturers worldwide.

U.S. orders placed for trailers in April, the latest numbers available at press time, “remained choppy,” noted Frank Maly with ACT Research, with dry vans responsible for an overall decline. “OEMs continue to negotiate with fleets, and that effort is building a large group of staged/planned orders that are not yet officially posted to the backlog. Once OEMs gain sufficient confidence in their supply chain and labor availability to open 2023 production slots, expect a surge of orders to be ‘officially’ accepted.”

Once 2023 trailer order boards open, backlogs will likely extend into the latter part of next year.  -  Source: ACT Research
Once 2023 trailer order boards open, backlogs will likely extend into the latter part of next year.Source: ACT Research

David Giesen, vice president of sales for Stoughton Trailers, says the main issue he hears from fleets right now is the simple demand for product in a market that cannot produce enough trailers to meet the demand that currently exists.

“On a regular basis we have component shortages that affect production,” Giesen says. “The supply chain and part availability issues are not getting better at this point. And because of these problems, we’re seeing trailer life extended throughout the industry. Fleets cannot get enough trailers to meet their needs, forcing them to run older trailers longer than they originally planned.”

Naturally, these problems are forcing many fleets to consider other options, says Jon Karel, vice president of national accounts with Strick Trailers.

“We’ve experienced a high demand from both private fleets and [for-hire] carriers that require either very ‘typical stock trailers,’ or highly specialized trailers with less-than-truckload flexibility built in,” Karel says. “Due to the high demand for dry vans and some supply constraints this year, many of our customers are now more open to equivalent components or substitutions that they have never considered selecting in the past.”

Trailer manufacturers remain focused on supply chain and manufacturing issues. But despite delays, the demand for smarter and connected trailers continues to slowly grow.  -  Photo: Stoughton
Trailer manufacturers remain focused on supply chain and manufacturing issues. But despite delays, the demand for smarter and connected trailers continues to slowly grow.Photo: Stoughton

Data mining by fleets has taken some risk out of the need to extend trailer life, says Troy Geisler, vice president of sales and marketing, Talbert Manufacturing. Because fleets now routinely track important trailer stats such as mileage, in-depth maintenance records, usage trends and longevity, determining how much farther out trailers can run before disposal is much easier now.

“Trailers — particularly lowboys — are long-term investments,” he says. “So, at Talbert, we take the time to ask our customers a lot of questions upfront to make sure we’re providing a trailer that will grow with their business.”

In order to make sure you’re prepared to address longevity issues when buying new trailers, Geisler says, know your operational coverage area and as many details as possible about your trailer usage. Additionally, he says, discuss with your sales representative your preventive maintenance practices. With this kind of information, manufacturers can deliver a product that can last for many years in tough applications — even as long as 20 years for some lowboy fleets.

“More and more fleets are looking for more data to analyze the performance of the equipment in the fleet, and to stay ahead of issues that might put equipment out of service,” notes Brett Olsen, marketing department manager, Utility Trailer Manufacturing. “Most for-hire fleets determine their trade cycle based on depreciation and financing. Private fleets are still looking for ways to extend life cycle. One of the keys to life cycle is spec’ing the equipment properly for the haul. Having a well-versed trailer salesperson really helps.”

A Slow Grind For Tech Adoption

These issues may have temporarily slowed the adoption of new trailer technologies, but carriers remain very interested in getting as modern a trailer as possible.

Barry Personett, Great Dane vice president, product and sales engineering, outlines eight key features fleets are looking for today when spec’ing new trailers:

  •  Lightweighting.
  •  Durability.
  • Corrosion resistance.
  • Higher floor ratings to accommodate end customer requirements and provide backhaul flexibility.
  • Impact resistance for better protection from forklift truck and loading dock damage.
  • Aerodynamics.
  • Thermal efficiency.
  • Safety.

“We address weight and corrosion resistance by using high strength-to-weight-ratio materials, such as ultra-high tensile strength carbon steel and aluminum alloys,” Personett says. “We also are using more composite materials, such as lightweight core sandwich panel, and lightweight suspension and wheel end components, as well as more robust coating systems to protect trailers from road salts.”

The tight supply of new trailers may require some flexibility for buyers. Trailer sales reps can help fleets get a trailer that performs up to their requirements.  -  Photo: Utility Trailer Mfg.
The tight supply of new trailers may require some flexibility for buyers. Trailer sales reps can help fleets get a trailer that performs up to their requirements.Photo: Utility Trailer Mfg.

Fuel cost savings remain the prime driver for efficient aerodynamic devices. And on the refrigerated front, trailers are getting more thermally efficient and lasting longer, so reducing insulation degradation and thermal losses are priorities for many fleets.

Air disc brakes for trailers is another new technology that has made solid inroads onto new trailer builds, although Ken Webb, vice president, dealer sales, Fontaine Trailer, says drum brakes still rule the vast majority of specs for new builds.

“Disc brakes certainly have a loyal following among some fleets and with a few owner-operators,” Webb says. “But other fleets that have tried them are reporting that the maintenance savings anticipated with disc brakes versus drum simply hasn’t materialized, at least not enough to offset the still steep upcharge to spec disc on new flatbed trailers today.”

Tire inflation pressure monitoring and automatic tire inflation systems have almost become a standard spec on quotes for many carriers, Webb adds, especially among larger national fleets. But, as with disc brakes, some lingering questions remain. “That’s because in spite of the obvious advantages, some fleets still take the position that system maintenance costs outweigh the benefits in tire life.”

Into The Future: ‘Smart’ Trailers

“Very few customers are actually purchasing ‘smart’ trailer technology at the moment,” Giesen says, “although we do have some interest from fleets in understanding what is available and how these new technologies might benefit them in the future. There is no question that eventually, digitization and telematics will offer opportunities for carriers to be more flexible, efficient and safer.”

For many trailer OEMs, the never-ending quest for stronger, yet lighter and durable materials to save weight and maximize payload is a focus of their technology efforts.  -  Photo: East
For many trailer OEMs, the never-ending quest for stronger, yet lighter and durable materials to save weight and maximize payload is a focus of their technology efforts.Photo: East

Given the pace of technological advances, fleets continue to drive the adoption of new systems for trailers, even in difficult times like these, says Doug Kenney, director of national fleet accounts for East. He says these include many hot, high-interest new technologies such as sensor monitoring of lighting, braking systems, wheel-end heat and tire pressure.

“With smart trailer systems, fleets will be able to make proactive decisions in real time, which will help avoid costly breakdowns and potential safety hazards,” Kenney says. “And as the industry gravitates to electrification and autonomous Class 8 trucks, smart trailers will have a necessary role in the advancement.”

He predicts that crash avoidance systems, including cameras, sensors, radar, ultrasonic and lidar systems, will be found on future smart trailers. “The smart trailer equipped with the above sensors will be necessary to have a safe and complete autonomous truck-trailer combination.”

Einride Enters U.S. Market: Connected, Electric and Smart

The Einride Trailer offers a sneak-peek at how emerging technologies may soon transform long-haul trailer design and function.  -  Photo: Einride
The Einride Trailer offers a sneak-peek at how emerging technologies may soon transform long-haul trailer design and function.Photo: Einride

Swedish OEM Einride has entered the U.S. market with its electric truck platforms and advanced autonomous control systems. Now it has stepped into the trailer market with a new electric long-haul trailer the company says is connected, electric and “smart.”

The Einride Trailer is an electric trailer that is designed for seamless integration with Einride electric and autonomous vehicles — although it will also be compatible with conventional electric semi-trucks, the OEM said.

Power is supplied by Einride’s Saga digital operating platform, which the company describes as a suite of powerful apps for end-to-end electric and autonomous freight. Einride says its new trailer will provide artificial intelligence-based insights into the cargo being transported by providing real-time data such as loading, route planning, fill rates, cargo monitoring, and preventive maintenance.

The new trailer will also feature a new, onboard, 320-kwh battery system that will help boost electric semi-truck range to 400 miles (650 km) on a single charge.

The Einride Trailer is slated to enter production next year.

This article first appeared in the July 2022 issue of Heavy Duty Trucking. 

 Fruehauf Returns to U.S. Trailer Production After 25 Years


Jul 13, 2022

Great Dane announced Wednesday its Jonesboro, Ark., and Huntsville, Tenn., manufacturing facilities have won 2021 Plant Safety Awards from the Truck Trailer Manufacturers Association (TTMA).

Great Dane Jonesboro is the winning trailer manufacturing plant in Category A, over 750,000-man hours; Great Dane Huntsville won in Category B, 350,000-750,000-man hours.

“We are very thankful to TTMA in recognizing our two plants as the safest large and medium-sizedtrailer plants in the country. This takes the commitment of the entire team,” says Brian Sage, Great Dane executive vice president, Manufacturing.“Everyone has to be bought in and working together to create this culture. Jonesboro has won thisaward three times and Huntsville four times, which reflects the sustainability of the culture thathas been created.”

Great Dane Jonesboro employs more than 400 people and went nearly 200 days without a recordable injury in 2021. Great Dane Huntsville employs more than 350 people and went 365 days without a recordable injury or lost time incident in 2021.

“I could not be prouder of our teams for the commitment to our safety culture. In all the uncertainty brought on by the pandemic, the rapid increase in sales, significant hiring, and a highly constrained supply base, we have never taken our eye off our most important priority: the safety of our team,” Sage says.

The Jonesboro plant manufactures Great Dane’s Champion dry freight van, while the Huntsville plant manufactures Great Dane’s Freedom flatbed series. This is the third TTMA Plant Safety Award for Great Dane Jonesboro and the fourth award for Great Dane Huntsville.

Like all of Great Dane’s facilities, the company says these plants have implemented many programs in an effort to keep safety as the top priority, including strong Behavioral Based Safety (BBS) programs and GreatDane’s company-wide safety initiative, the “Think Safety First” program. This program focuses on safe working behaviors for individuals by teaching employees about the negative impacts an injury can have not only on the individual, but also on their family members and friends.

The TTMA recognizes the importance of safety and desires to acknowledge organizations that areachieving excellence in this area. Since the competition began in 1971, Great Dane has received nearly 45 awards in various categories. The Plant Safety Contest is a competition among all trailer manufacturers who are members of theTTMA.  Plants are scored on the number of recordable injury rates, lost workday cases, and Days Away, Days Restricted or Days Transferred (DART) due to injuries per 100 employees. The award determinations are based on direct comparison of injury data from the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) Annual Summary Form 300A, TTMA says.

Lucas Deal (TPS Chief Editor)

Jul 7, 2022

A glimpse at Cummins’ fuel-agnostic offerings. Everything below the head gasket will share a common base engine as shown in red. This will help reduce costs associated with acquisition, part replacement and technician training.

More than 20 years of research and development came to fruition at Cummins earlier this year when the company revealed its plans to bring agnostic engine technology to the commercial vehicle sector.

Announcing the landmark development in February, Cummins stated standardizing aspects of its B, L and X-Series engine portfolios for diesel, natural gas and hydrogen is a tremendous step toward its corporate goal reducing emissions and achieving ‘Destination Zero’ by 2050.

Cummins’ Vice President of Engineering, Engine Business, Jonathan White said at the time that the company’s agnostic technology is “a new way of designing and developing lower emission internal combustion powertrains that meet the unique needs of the transportation industry … This unique technology approach will allow end users to more seamlessly pick the right powertrain for their application with the lowest CO2 impact.”

Which is where truck dealers come in.

As Cummins readies its new technology for its North American introduction, the engine maker also is investing resources to convey the advantages of its agnostic engines to OEMs and fleets who will buy them.

In addition to its environmental benefits, Cummins believes agnostic engines will offer increased sales potential for OEMs and reduce maintenance complexity for truck owners and service providers. Dealers who want to sell and service this equipment would benefit themselves by learning those advantages as soon as possible.

[RELATED: Hyliion, Cummins working to bring natural gas hypertruck to market next year]

From a sales perspective, Cummins states agnostic engine technology could be a game-changer for OEMs. The company states using similar engine footprint and architecture across its portfolio will make integration into trucks easier across the platforms, lowering costs associated with vehicle redesign and production line changes and creating more choices for customers.

All built using a common base engine, Cummins says its agnostic solutions will have largely similar components below the head gasket with different components above. Rollout dates have not been finalized as testing and development are ongoing for all engine series. In long-haul, Cummins says its 15-liter natural gas engine is expected to come first, followed by a 15-liter hydrogen internal combustion engine. Additionally, the first two products slated as part of the B6.7 platform will be Octane (gasoline) and propane with hydrogen to follow.

“We’ve been working on this as a concept for more than 20 years, but more stringent regulations and shifts in what our customers need have allowed us to invest to bring the concept to reality,” the company says.

Cummins adds that while each engine will be “specifically built and optimized to run on a specific fuel type,” fuel agnostic will mean fleets will be able choose the best fuel type that best meets their needs. “By offering a range of solutions with a common architecture, we are giving fleets the ability to more seamlessly integrate a variety of fuel types into their fleets.”

The company sees other benefits too.

Agnostic engines are expected to offer diesel-like performance, durability and reliability; will significantly lower incremental and replacement costs than BEV and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles; and could offer sustainable power options where infrastructure is not available for BEV and hydrogen fuel cells. Engine design and parts commonality also will reduce maintenance complexity and aid in the training and performance of engine technicians, while also lowering training and tooling costs and reducing parts inventories.

[RELATED: Class 8 orders see minor bump in June]

Cummins is working on training curriculum for dealers now. And while finale release dates remain private, Cummins says it hopes to make its first agnostic engine available in 2024. The company also is directing fleet customers to talk to their preferred OEMs today if interested in staking out build slots. Until then, development continues.

“Our customers can be confident in Cummins’ unmatched testing and evaluation process ensuring high-performance products,” White said in February. “No matter what type of work a fleet does, we’ll have an engine powered by lower carbon fuels with diesel-like performance to get the job done.”

June 24, 2022 • From News/Media Release 

Construction on Ford’s Ohio Assembly Plant in Avon Lake is expected to begin later this year; assembly on the commercial electric vehicle is expected to begin in mid-decade. Photo: Ford

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, Lt. Governor Jon Husted, and JobsOhio joined representatives from the Ford Motor Company to announce that Ford is investing $1.5 billion into Lorain County at the Ford Ohio Assembly Plant in Avon Lake to continue producing medium-duty trucks and assemble an all-new commercial electric vehicle (EV).

This investment will create 1,800 new hourly jobs.

“The ingenuity and talent of Ohio’s automotive workforce are second to none, and Ford’s investment in Avon Lake will play an essential role in growing the EV space,” said DeWine. “Ford has been a partner in Ohio for generations, and its confidence in the Ford Ohio Assembly Plant operations secures EV operations in Lorain County that will be critical for decades to come.” 

In addition to the 1,800 new jobs to make the new commercial EV at the Ford Ohio Assembly Plant, the expanded facility will continue producing Ford’s E-series van, medium-duty trucks, and Super Duty chassis cabs. Ford also announced an additional 90 jobs and a $100 million investment between its Lima Engine Plant and Sharonville Transmission plants.

“There are many wonderful aspects to a day like today, but the special news for Northeast Ohio is that there will be 1,800 new, good-paying jobs with health care benefits and the higher quality of life and job security that comes along with it,” said Lt. Governor Husted. “Governor DeWine and I are glad Ford chose Ohio to help manufacture this EV vehicle, continuing the region’s extensive legacy in automotive innovation.”

Construction on Ford’s Ohio Assembly Plant in Avon Lake is expected to begin later this year; assembly on the commercial electric vehicle is expected to begin in mid-decade.

“Ohio is one of the world’s great automotive hubs and a key manufacturing state that has been central to Ford since we first opened Ohio Assembly Plant in 1958,” said Kumar Galhotra, president, Ford Blue. “Ford is proud to assemble more vehicles and employ more union autoworkers in the U.S. than any other auto manufacturer, and our commitment to the state of Ohio deepens today with the creation of 1,800 union jobs and $1.5 billion investment to build an all-new commercial EV at Ohio Assembly Plant.”

The Ford Motor Company, DeWine-Husted Administration, the Ohio Department of Development, the City of Avon Lake, Lorain County, state and local elected officials, and Ohio’s Congressional delegation all collaborated with JobsOhio to bring the project to Avon Lake. JobsOhio, the state’s private nonprofit economic development corporation, has placed focus on supporting the automotive supply chain as original equipment manufacturers have begun to place a focus on EV production.

“The Avon Lake facility represents the automotive heritage of Ohio and our world-class labor workforce and also our shared commitment with Ford to advancing innovation as we transition – together – to the EV space for future production,” said J.P. Nauseef, JobsOhio president/CEO. “As manufacturing continues to evolve in Lorain County, JobsOhio and our partners are committed to protecting and growing Ohio’s automotive industry by positioning the state as a global EV leader.”

Ford operates facilities in Avon Lake, Brook Park, Lima, and Sharonville and has more than 7,000 employees in Ohio.

“Today’s investment by Ford in Avon Lake is a testament to the world-class workforce in Lorain County and Northeast Ohio,” said Nathan Manning, state senator. “I’m proud to have supported the Megaproject legislation that will help Ohiowin life-changing investments like this one. This is a perfect example of the success that is possible when JobsOhio, the State of Ohio, and our regional and local partners work together as one team.”

To support the expansion of the Ford Ohio Assembly Plant in Avon Lake, the Ohio Tax Credit Authority will consider a tax credit at a future meeting, and JobsOhio also plans to provide grant assistance.

Tom Quimby, CCJ senior editor

Jun 22, 2022 | Updated Jun 23, 2022

Cummins recently revealed its 15-liter hydrogen engine at the Advanced Clean Transportation Expo in Long Beach, Calif.

At a time when fleets are looking at all-electric and fuel cell as their only zero-emission options, hydrogen internal combustion may have a shot at joining that elite club – though, getting past gatekeepers in the U.S. and Europe will be anything but easy.

General Manager of Cummins’ Hydrogen Engine Business Jim Nebergall told reporters at a recent press event at Cummins’ headquarters in Columbus, Indiana, that hydrogen combustion “would likely be recognized as ZEV” in Europe.

“It’s huge,” Nebergall said of the possibility.

When CCJ asked if lawmakers in the U.S. might follow Europe’s lead should hydrogen combustion be designated as zero emissions, Nebergall said, “How does EPA and CARB view the technology? Will they follow a similar approach? They should.”

The reason for a zero designation, Nebergall explained, rests on the capability of hydrogen internal combustion engines (ICE) to drastically cut carbon, a growing requirement championed regularly by influential investment groups and legislators around the globe who seek to control climate change.

“It’s an extremely low reduction in carbon,” Nebergall said of Cummins’ recently announced 6.7- and 15-liter hydrogen engines. “There’s basically no carbon. It’s just NOx.”

And it’s not much. As Nebergall explained in a recent CCJ story, Cummins’ hydrogen engines will “easily see a 75% reduction in NOx from today’s standards.” Steady state cruising on highway delivers “almost no NOx at all,” Nebergall continued.

The numbers look good long before hydrogen makes its way to the engine. From a well-to-wheels perspective, a June 15 data chart released by California Air Resources Board (CARB) shows hydrogen’s carbon intensity dropping to -150, making it a carbon negative fuel.

To help ensure low carbon intensity scores, Cummins produces renewable or green hydrogen through electrolysis, a growing method that uses electricity from renewable energy sources like solar, wind and hydroelectric to produce hydrogen from water.

Hydrogen can beat all-electric’s carbon intensity scores, particularly when the grid is powered by fossil fuel sources like coal and natural gas – which tends to be the case across the country. In 2021, 61% of the electricity in the U.S. was produced by fossil fuels according to the U.S. Energy Administration.

Cummins general manager of hydrogen engine business Jim Nebergal l talked with reporters recently at the company’s headquarters in Columbus, Indiana. Source: Tom Quimby

It’s this kind of carbon-cutting performance that has drawn support for hydrogen combustion in medium- and heavy-duty trucks from legislators in the European Union, CCJ confirmed. But no matter the EU’s leanings, CARB and the EPA, both of which have not yet tested either of Cummins’ hydrogen engines, are not impressed.

While it’s true that carbon reduction is seen by climate protection advocates as a win in reducing damage to the ozone layer and thus stemming climate change, tailpipe emissions of any kind are regarded as a potential problem for local air pollution in communities, especially those in truck-heavy areas like ports.

“Our definition of ZEV only includes vehicles that have zero emissions of any criteria pollutant, precursor to a criteria pollutant, or a GHG,” CARB spokesman Alberto Larios explained. “So, even if the H2 fuel became 100% renewable, the criteria pollutant emissions from the internal combustion engine would still be a problem and preclude it from counting as a ZEV.”

The EPA so far has also nixed the idea.

“Commercial trucks that use hydrogen combustion engines do not count as zero emission vehicle status,” said EPA spokesperson Taylor Gillespie. “This is because the heat and pressure of combustion, combined with nitrogen in the air, produce NOx emissions, and urea-SCR emission controls are still needed (as they are on diesel-fueled engines.)” 

Building the case

When it comes to considering hydrogen ICE as a zero emission option in the U.S. and abroad, Cummins is not alone. Thomas Korn, engineer and founder of hydrogen engine company Keyou in Munich, Germany, supported the idea during the height of the COVID pandemic.

“As a large proportion of the vehicles currently being produced still have combustion engines, the engine itself must become an essential means of combating the climate crisis,” Korn wrote in a June 2020 article posted on, a scholarly publication focusing on scientific, technical and medical topics.

“This has been recognized by the EU, which classifies vehicles with combustion engines as zero-emission vehicles if their emission levels are below 1 g CO2/kWh,” Korn continued. “This is possible by using modern hydrogen combustion engines.”

Nearly two months after revealing its near-zero 10.6-liter opposed-piston diesel engine inside the engine bay of a Peterbilt 579 operated by Walmart, the San Diego based company announced that it would be testing hydrogen next.

California-based Achates Power, which recently announced the formation of the Hydrogen Opposed Piston Engine Working Group, also expressed optimism in reaching increasingly tough emissions goals with hydrogen combustion.

“It is possible that a hydrogen opposed piston combustion engine would be placed on par with a ZEV powertrain in terms of criteria emissions and net CO2,” said Achates Chief Commercial Officer Laurence Fromm. “The opposed-piston engine would likely have advantages – potentially large advantages – in lower cost to purchase and longer service life.

Fromm cautioned against dismissing internal combustion, the world’s long-standing workhorse, as legislators and major manufacturers around the globe increase the pace of emissions reduction. 

“Until, as a society, we’ve established there are capable, practical, cost-effective and durable solutions we would be foolish to abandon any potential solution,” Fromm continued. “It will be a great advance for the world if we have capable, practical, cost-effective and durable battery electric and/or fuel cells solutions that use sustainably sourced, affordable energy in large volumes around the globe.  But until we do, we need to consider solutions that will get much closer to our goals much faster.”

The European-based Hydrogen Engine Alliance, which counts Cummins, Daimler Truck, Isuzu, Webasto, BorgWarner and Bosch among its growing membership, sees hydrogen combustion as a viable option for cleaning up emissions in Europe.

“Indeed the European Commission acknowledges hydrogen engines for as zero CO2 emission vehicles given the use of green hydrogen,” said Hydrogen Engine Alliance founding board member Dr. Marco Warth. “A draft for legislation has been prepared, but not yet ratified.”

Fighting the good fight

No matter the progress, convincing legislators to place hydrogen ICE in the mix with zero-emission all-electric and fuel cells has not been easy since they still emit pollutants, albeit at reduced numbers versus conventional diesel and gasoline engines.

Last week, the European Union voted to nix hydrogen and other green ICE fuels in its quest for zero emission cars. CCJ reached out to the EU for comments on hydrogen combustion in commercial trucks but had not heard back by deadline.

In the meantime, decision makers at CARB will continue considering hydrogen combustion one engine at a time.

“Hydrogen combustion vehicles are novel, still emit combustion by-products, and face a range of durability and performance questions, among other policy matters,” CARB Executive Officer Craig Segall told CCJ. “There is an acute need to move towards true zero emission vehicles, though CARB would carefully evaluate any hydrogen combustion vehicles.”

CARB does have a history of extending compliance to some hydrogen engines, though it didn’t exactly go as planned.

“In prior light-duty ZEV regulations, we have allowed internal combustion engine H2 fueled vehicles to earn credits towards compliance, but they were still not counted as actual ZEVs,” Larios explained.

“The EPA and CARB haven’t processed this technology fully to understand it,” Cummins general manager of hydrogen engine business Jim Nebergall said. “Do they want to call it a ZEV? Do they want to classify it as that? Or is it a partial ZEV? They’re working through that. I think the industry would benefit if they did classify it as [ZEV].” Source: Cummins

“Our rationale was that a population of such vehicles would be able to run on a more renewable fuel (assuming a future where H2 is produced through a better process to be considered renewable/clean energy) and that they could bolster the demand for H2 infrastructure along with fuel cell electric vehicles,” Larios continued. “No manufacturer ever really used these provisions.”

Cummins, which announced its membership in the Hydrogen Engine Alliance last week, is making its journey to zero emissions by 2050 with a variety of powertrains which in addition to hydrogen ICE include fuel cell, all-electric, propane, natural gas and gasoline.

“Cummins has a long history of working with regulators — which in the U.S. includes the EPA and CARB — to help develop tough, clear and enforceable standards that lead to a cleaner, healthier and safer environment,” said Katie Zarich, Cummins director of on-highway communications. “With respect to hydrogen ICE, we continue to share our perspective regarding how this practical zero-carbon technology can help accelerate the adoption of zero greenhouse gas emissions solutions in fleets, which find the familiarity and relative affordability of Hydrogen internal combustion engines very appealing.”

Fleet 101: What is Torque?

Posted: June 15, 2022 in Kenworth

This Fleet 101 episode of Truck Chat episode focuses on a commonly misunderstood term in truck fleets today: #torque. Executive Editor, Lauren Fletcher, covers the basics of torque and helps you gain a greater understanding of the topic.

Today’s topics include: – What is torque? – How is torque measured? – Where does torque come from? – What causes differences in torque? – Why does torque matter to work truck fleets?

June 7, 2022 • By Lauren Fletcher • 

Work trucks are complicated, and each component ages and wears differently in these tough environments.
 Photo: paper

While hearing the word warranty or extended warranty likely brings up nightmare visions of hundreds of spam phone calls, it’s an essential consideration for work truck fleets. 

A warranty is a written guarantee provided to the purchaser of an item by its manufacturer that promises to replace or repair an item, if necessary, within a specified period. 

Work truck fleets aren’t gentle with their equipment. They don’t deal in luxury and relaxation but dirt and hard work. 

At the bare bones, “A warranty assists in offsetting the massive financial risk of a catastrophic breakdown for the trucks in your fleet,” Lindsey Grammel, VP of global brand development for TruNorth, said.

Why Consider a Vehicle Warranty for Vocational Trucks? 

Work trucks are complicated, and each component ages and wears differently in these tough environments.  

“Typically, the life of the body lasts three times longer than the life of the chassis. Extended warranties are one of the ways to help keep vehicles operating efficiently. Costs are covered for parts outlined within the warranty. Uptime is key for vocational trucks, and warranties are a way to help ensure uptime while keeping costs steady,” Mark Santschi, Kenworth director of after sales, in Kirkland, Washington, said.

There is no doubt commercial trucks are the investment that allows a vocational truck fleet to have a business. 

“A semi-truck can last upwards of 1-million miles and 10-plus years. During the life of that truck, breakdowns are inevitable. Costs for repairs, especially catastrophic failure to such major equipment as the engine, can be a huge financial burden to a single truck or small fleet owner. Some repairs can cost tens of thousands of dollars,” Tim Ronan, chief marketing officer for National Truck Protection Co. Inc., said.

If an owner-operator doesn’t have a maintenance and repair fund set aside, a hefty repair bill could cost them their business. 

“They could have more than one major failure with an older truck,” Ronan added.

Top Benefits of a Factory/OEM Warranty for Vocational Fleets

The warranty you choose and where you get it from matters. 

“Having the backing of an OEM warranty/extended warranty or used-truck warranty vs. an outside company or third-party is much better for a fleet. The fleet manager knows they can reach out to that OEM to get support with the warranty and the vehicle in the same call, versus being transferred back and forth,” Brian Tabel, executive director of marketing for Isuzu Commercial Truck of America (ICTA), said.

There are several benefits of choosing a warranty from the OEM itself. 

“There is comfort in having an OEM back the warranty. It provides the ease of one-stop or one phone call to resolve any concerns. The OEM warranties are also typically longer and more inclusive of parts and services. OEM warranties also have towing coverage included,” Tabel added.

Additional benefits, according to Santschi of Kenworth, include improved uptime and reduced operating costs (while the warranty is still active).

According to Ronan of National Truck Protection, all new semi-trucks come with an OEM warranty covering major equipment and components. 

‘These warranties vary in coverage length but typically have coverage until about 200,000 miles. New buyers count on that warranty, so the manufacturer will take care of any early equipment failures,” Ronan added.

When Does an Extended Warranty Make Sense? 

So, when does a warranty make sense? 

“All the time! A warranty makes sense for vehicles new to the fleet or currently in the fleet that meets the qualifications,” Grammel of TruNorth said.

It was unanimous. The subject-matter experts all agreed that, for work truck fleets, it’s always a good idea also to consider an extended warranty. 

“Extended warranties make much sense for customers that drive longer than the standard warranty coverage to give that comfort of the truck in a higher mileage situation. It also makes sense for customers who do not drive many miles but would like the extra time to cover any repairs needed,” Tabel of ICTA said.

Once a factory/OEM warranty expires, truck fleets should protect their trucks with an extended warranty. 

“Used trucks are more likely to have equipment failures. For example, if the lifetime of a Class 8 semi is 1-million miles, 80% of the truck’s life is not covered for failures that will more likely occur as the truck ages. An extended warranty extends the peace of mind the fleet had when a factory/OEM warranty covered them. Once a factory/OEM warranty expires, having an extended warranty is critical, especially because the truck is what allows them to be in business. If their truck is down and they don’t have the funds to pay for the repair quickly, they won’t work and won’t be making any money,” Ronan of National Truck Protection said. Santschi of Kenworth added an extended warranty “always makes sense since vocational customers tend to keep the truck for its whole life.”

But, as is typical in the work truck industry, there is not always a one-size-fits-all solution, and there are a few times an extended warranty may not make sense. 

“It can depend on the truck application; for example, if the truck is not used on the road and is unable to travel to an authorized dealer. Or, a truck that may drive in high excess of miles per year,” Tabel of ICTA said.

Additionally, extended warranties may not be the best option for a new truck purchase. 

“An extended warranty does not make sense if the trucks are new – the factory/OEM warranty should cover them. It also does not make sense if the fleet is big enough to have repair facilities in-house,” Tim Ronan, chief marketing officer for National Truck Protection Co. Inc., said.

Paying for extra coverage may not be logical for businesses with large cash reserves, which many small fleets do not. 

“I can’t think of a time unless the fleet has a massive load of cash reserves specifically laid back for repairs,” Grammel of TruNorth said.

Top Questions to Ask to Determine Warranty Needs 

To better understand your warranty needs, it is recommended to ask the following questions: 

  • “How long will you keep the vehicle, and what does your service network look like?” asked Santschi of Kenworth.
  • “What are your current costs for maintenance and repairs?” asked Grammel of TruNorth.
  • “Do they have adequate maintenance facilities/mechanics to properly care for their trucks and make major equipment repairs? Do they have adequate cash reserves to pay for truck equipment repairs, especially major repairs? How long will they operate each truck (before selling it/taking it off the street)?” asked Ronan of National Truck Protection Co.
  • “Fleets should really discuss the different applications and miles or time driven for the salesperson to recommend the best extended warranty for each truck purchased,” said Tabel of ICTA. 

May 26, 2022

BEVs could have their day, but if the industry’s focus is on decarbonization, fuel cells are trucking’s future, according to a transportation futurist, who laid out the case for hydrogen. That’s an argument also backed by ATRI and Tier 1 suppliers.

Josh Fisher

NEW ORLEANS—The future of trucking is clean, but battery-electric transport is just a fantasy.

Transportation futurist Gary Golden told fleet leaders gathered here for Solera Outlook 2022 why he believes hydrogen will win out in the race to power their electric trucks and personal vehicles. 

In the energy and transportation world, there is a debate between “pure electrification” and decarbonization, he said. The former focuses on electrifying everything—from transportation to manufacturing. “Decarbonization says we’re going to try to electrify as much as we can—but we can’t deny the role that molecule fuels play in the world,” Golden explained. “Molecule fuels, chemical bonds, deliver 80% of the world’s energy.”

See more: The dawn of hydrogen trucks

“I believe that electrification—particularly in the transportation sector—is what we would call a fantasy wrapped in an illusion,” he said. “I don’t buy it. I don’t believe it. I don’t care what anybody says. I don’t care when a person is like, ‘I have an electric car. I love it.’”

Hydrogen fuel-cell trucks are the most decarbonized freight vehicles, according to a recent American Transportation Research Institute report. “Battery-electric trucks are only about 30% cleaner than diesel trucks,” Daniel Murray, ATRI SVP, said during a breakout session at Solera’s first user conference since expanding its fleet solutions through several recent acquisitions.

During his keynote speech that morning, Golden said the future of EVs is about the motor, not the battery. “How we deliver the electricity to that motor is of debate,” he explained. “But it’s the motor that defines the EV.”

Electrification Vs Decarbonization Golden Futurist

The EV conundrum

Golden asserted that the cheapest EV powertrain is a small battery, hydrogen fuel cell, and capacitor.  “Because when you look at the mature, full-picture, long-term cost curve per kilowatt of a battery versus a fuel cell, fuel cells will be cheaper than batteries,” he said. “Not today, but in a mature manufacturing world, fuel cells will always be cheaper because they don’t have the mineral requirements that batteries do.”

Murray noted that building an electric truck is less green than producing diesel equipment. “Electric trucks are six times more polluting than a diesel truck,” he said. “Why is that? You need cobalt, lithium, nickel, manganese to make these lithium-ion batteries. And that’s very expensive to mine that out.”

Class 8 BEVs are limited to 250 miles with the largest batteries, according to ATRI’s research. The battery’s weight and size reduce freight capabilities, too, Murray noted. The replacement batteries, which Murray said could cost as much as a new diesel tractor, would need to be replaced every four to seven years. 

“And there’s no place to charge these,” Murray said. “Elon Musk stopped bragging about building a 600-mile-charge truck. You haven’t heard that in two years because that is a physical impossibility. The best you’ll get on a charge—which will take you two to four hours to get to 80%—is a 200-mile trip.”

With trucking facing a driver shortage and most drivers paid by the mile, Murray said: “Now you’re going to tell your drivers that instead of driving 500 miles, I need you to stop every 150 to 200 miles. You’re not going to get paid, but I need you to stop and charge for four or five hours.”

Another recent EV trucking study by the North American Council for Freight Efficiency said that half of U.S. regional and short-haul Class 8 trucks are ripe for electrification today. NACFE said that half of the 930,000 Class 8 regional operations could go electric. This would be nearly a quarter of the roughly 2 million Class 8s serving the U.S. today. 

How do you charge an entire fleet at night?

Daniel Murray, ATRI
Daniel Murray, ATRI

But futurist Golden doesn’t buy that infrastructure can be built out to support commercial or consumer battery charging. EV proponents suggest that “everyone will just plug in at home,” he said. “That’s a lie. When you look at the people in the world and where they put their car at the end of the day and where fleets go, only a small percentage of them are in a spot where it’s easy to just plug in.” 

As more EVs are built, hydrogen will be a simpler and cheaper way to fuel trucks and cars, according to Golden. The precious materials that go into batteries are only found in a few countries, while hydrogen is abundant, he added.

“What I think is happening in your world in terms of that energy transportation story is part of a longer arc of the decarbonization of fuels,” Golden told hundreds of Solera customers. 

Human society used to rely on carbon-intensive materials such as wood and coal for fuel, he said. “Then, we found these hydrogen-rich bonds in oil and gas,” he added. “What we’re entering is the era of hydrogen-rich, electrochemical energy conversion.”

Internal combustion engines have multiple stages of mechanical output that lose energy at each step, Golden explained. While hydrogen fuel cells convert the chemical energy of hydrogen into electricity in one step. “Not multiple steps—one step,” he emphasized. “And it does it without moving parts. So it doesn’t wear-and-tear. It doesn’t break.”

He said the future of heavy-duty trucking energy is a fuel-based electric motor. “There will be EVs built for the next 10 to 15 years, maybe longer for short-haul. But we need fuel cells because it’s less weight and there’s more space for cargo and cabin capacity.”

Electrification Vs Decarbonization Fleet Implications Golden Futurist

Listen to Tier 1 suppliers, not Tesla

“If you want the signals, you don’t look to see what Elon Musk is saying. You look at what the Tier 1 system integrators are building,” Golden explained. “From 2023 to 2028, all of them are bringing hydrogen fuel cells online.”

Kenworth has a fuel-cell truck, which it developed with Toyota, in pilot tests. The most recent major fuel-cell partnership is between Cummins and Daimler Truck North America.

He predicted market dynamics would turn green hydrogen—energy produced through solar, wind, geothermal—into a new energy commodity. “Chile and Australia are the world’s largest lithium producers,” Golden noted. “When you look at their energy-use stories, the only thing you hear from Chile and Australia is their green hydrogen strategy. Because once you send that to them abroad, it doesn’t come back.”

He said hydrogen infrastructure projects could help fleets plan. “If the region you service or where your business is located has no kind of hydrogen corridor on the map, your future transition point is farther out,” he said. 

The first regional hydrogen stations will either produce the fuel on-site or deliver it by truck. Eventually, cities would have high-pressure pipelines, which Golden said would be the easiest, safest way to fuel hydrogen stations.