Senator hits the track to learn more about Cummins
A U.S. Senator experienced Cummins’ energy diversity strategy first hand last week, literally.
U.S. Sen. Mike Braun, an Indiana Republican, visited the Cummins test track outside Columbus, Indiana, Aug. 8 and drove a variety of Cummins powered vehicles, ranging from a tractor-trailer with the company’s popular X15 engine to a zero-emission bus with Cummins’ new electrified powertrain.
“What do you see in 10 to 15 years on how vehicles are going to be powered?” Braun asked, after completing his test drive with a spin around the track in a RAM pickup with a Cummins’ 6.7-liter, 385-horsepower engine.
“We believe very much in the power of choice,” said Brett Merritt, Vice President – On Highway at Cummins. “We don’t think there’s one silver bullet and the right choice depends on the application.”
Braun’s visit was part of the senator’s 50-city Summer of Solutions tour, where he’s meeting with businesses and constituents around Indiana to learn more about the challenges facing the state and country.
“As a former entrepreneur, I know you have to listen to the customer to solve problems,” said Braun, who took office Jan. 1. He is owner of a third-party logistics company based in Jasper, Indiana, that has grown to become an industry leader in auto parts distribution.
Merritt explained Cummins wants to offer customers a broad portfolio of power products including clean diesel, natural gas, and hybrid engines as well as electrified power, so customers can choose what’s right for their needs.
While electrified power is a great option for buses in urban areas where the necessary infrastructure is expected to develop first, it is not a great option for long-haul trucking over significant distances because of the lack of infrastructure.
If a customer has access to a supply of renewable natural gas from a source like a landfill, Merritt pointed out that Cummins’ zero emissions natural gas engines can deliver carbon negative power for urban work trucks and buses.
And there may be clean, efficient power sources the company hasn’t developed yet. Cummins, for example, has been exploring the potential of hydrogen fuel cells.
“We’re in it for the long term,” Merritt said.
Braun said adopting new technology has been key to the growth of his own company. And he seemed especially struck by a line in a slide presentation that said, “Cummins is at its best when the industry is changing.”
“That first line is very true,” the senator said. “If you get good at that, you out maneuver your competitors.”