SuperTruck Project is Ready to Take Off

Some members of Cummins’ SuperTruck team stand next to the tractor before its trip to Texas for the start of critical testing in the fall of 2012. From left to right, Jon Dickson, Vehicle Applications Leader – Advanced Engineering; David Koberlein, SuperTruck Principal Investigator and Wayne Eckerle, Vice President – Research and Technology.

The future of trucking could well be unfolding this fall along U.S. Route 287 in north central Texas.

After months of testing concepts in trucks around the country, Cummins engineers and their colleagues in a public-private partnership will pull together the best of what they’ve learned and apply it to a single tractor-trailer.

With an aerodynamic exterior, an engine that captures waste heat and converts it to energy, and much more, their vision of the SuperTruck will officially hit the road.

“The opportunity to get out and see how all of these improvements work together is very exciting for everyone in the project,” said David Koeberlein, Cummins Principal Investigator for SuperTruck.

Funded in part by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), the SuperTruck program was created to develop the next generation of tractor-trailers – a more fuel efficient and environmentally friendly version of what’s on the road today.

There’s still plenty of research and development to do, but the test-runs to start in October 2012 between Fort Worth and Vernon, Texas are an important project milestone.

For Cummins, it means a chance to see not only how the waste heat recovery system works in concert with the rest of the vehicle but also combustion efficiency gains achieved by redesigning parts of the engine.

“The program is really an extension of the work we’ve been doing on fuel efficiency for a very long time now; it’s not something we just started on,” said Wayne Eckerle, Vice President – Research and Development for Cummins. “The SuperTruck program takes a comprehensive look at how to maximize the fuel economy of the tractor-trailer combination as a single unit.”

SuperTruck project is ready to take off_2

The engine work is only part of the SuperTruck project that Cummins is leading. Peterbilt Motors Company, a division of PACCAR, is designing a tractor-trailer exterior with less drag.

Eaton and Dana are developing drivetrain improvements. Delphi is working on a fuel cell to reduce or eliminate the idling of trucks when drivers are asleep or resting. And those are just some of the companies involved in the effort.

“Working on a project like this is exciting because it’s about the entire vehicle. It’s not just the tractor. It’s not just the engine,” said Scott Newhouse, Assistant Chief Engineer of Product Development responsible for the SuperTruck Program at Peterbilt. “It’s the whole system working together, which is really exciting for us.”


Energy officials initiated the multi-year program in 2010 with the goal of designing a heavy-duty Class 8 truck that achieves a 50 percent improvement in overall freight efficiency measured in ton-miles per gallon.

The DOE set the goal of attaining 40 percent of the overall efficiency gains from engine improvements with the remaining 60 percent coming from other vehicle systems such as aerodynamics, using lighter weight materials and reducing friction in the drive train.

The potential savings are significant. Class 8 trucks represent only about four percent of the on-road vehicles in the United States but are responsible for almost 20 percent of the country’s on-road fuel consumption.

Through the SuperTruck program, energy officials want to see fuel economy increase from about 6.5 miles-per-gallon to 9.75 miles-per-gallon. That would save about $15,000 in annual fuel costs per long-haul truck.

The total cost of the SuperTruck initiative is about $270 million including DOE grants and matching expenditures from the project participants.

Cummins is one of the four prime contractors leading SuperTruck teams. Daimler/Freightliner, Navistar and Volvo are also leading SuperTruck projects, developing their own visions of trucking’s future.

Cummins received a $39 million grant from the energy department in 2010. The Company expects to complete its work by April 2014.

Waste heat recovery

Cummins engineers have worked hard developing a waste heat recovery system for SuperTruck. The system is similar to how steam power plants operate. Here’s a quick look:

  1. First, the system extracts waste heat from the exhaust system via a pressurized refrigerant.
  2. Next, the pressurized, heated refrigerant expands across a small turbine on the engine, creating power.
  3. Finally, the power generated by the turbine goes back to the engine shaft, helping to push the vehicle forward and reducing the need for diesel fuel.

The SuperTruck team

Here’s a quick look at the Cummins partners working on the SuperTruck project:
Cummins engine-related partners:

  • Cummins business units: The Engine Business, Fuel Systems, Turbo Technologies, Emission Solutions, Electronics and Filtration are all participating in the project to develop an advanced efficient engine.
  • Modine Manufacturing Company and VanDyne Super Turbos Inc.: Supporting engine development and exploration efforts.
  • Oak Ridge National Lab and Purdue University: These institutions have structured research programs to support development efforts.

Peterbilt vehicle-related partners:

  • Peterbilt Motors Company: Advanced aerodynamics of tractor-trailer and vehicle weight reductions.
  • Eaton Corporation and Dana Holding Company: Working on drivetrain improvements.
  • Delphi Automotive: Developing idle management systems.
  • Bergstrom Inc.: Developing climate control system.
  • Modine Manufacturing Company: Supporting the vehicle cooling system and waste heat recovery integration.
  • Bridgestone Corporation and The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co.: Leading the tire development.
  • U.S. Xpress Enterprises: Helping with fleet operational questions and evaluations.


At about the half way point in the effort, Cummins officials say they are pleased with the progress so far.

“The Cummins SuperTruck program remains on schedule and our roadmaps seek to meet or exceed our targets,” Koeberlein said.

Cummins is committed to reaching a number of milestones, including a 20 percent improvement in Brake Thermal Efficiency -- a measure of the energy efficiency of the engine. The waste heat recovery system is expected to accomplish about 6 percent of that 20 percent gain.

The Cummins team expects to build on that by reducing friction, adding a highly efficient exhaust aftertreatment system and efficiency gains within the combustion cycle of the engine resulting in more power for the crankshaft without a corresponding increase in fuel consumption.

“The 20 percent fuel efficiency improvement is a very technically challenging target to reach,” Koeberlein said. “Waste heat recovery is a significant contribution towards this goal.”

The other members of the SuperTruck team are contributing to the two program milestones on vehicle freight efficiency. These goals are to be over a complete vehicle operating cycle and measured in gallons of fuel consumed per ton of goods moved per mile traveled.

Vehicle improvements to accomplish this might include a more aerodynamically efficient tractor and trailer, improved tire technology, an advanced axle and transmission system, idle management and more.

The final program commitment is to develop and demonstrated in a test cell Brake thermal Efficiency even about the 20 percent improvement.


SuperTruck project is ready to take off_3

The route on U.S. 287, not far from Peterbilt’s headquarters in Denton, will allow the team to test SuperTruck over real-world conditions: elevation change, start-stop conditions and speed limit changes within city limits.

“Utilizing multiple new technologies on a single vehicle can create integration challenges,” said Peterbilt’s Newhouse. “Working as a team, we understand the trade-offs and resolve them to ensure everything operates the most efficiently as a system. Individual component testing and vehicle testing are being conducted to ensure performance objectives are met.”

While the technical hurdles are significant, Eckerle says it’s important that team members not lose sight of one other critical factor.

“Our biggest challenge is really getting the costs for any and all of the technologies and systems we’re working on down to where the fleets will want to buy them,” he said. “They need to be durable and reliable, of course, but in the end they must offer a way to reduce total cost of ownership in order for a customer to use them.”

blair claflin director of sustainability communications

Blair Claflin

Blair Claflin is the Director of Sustainability Communications for Cummins Inc. Blair joined the Company in 2008 as the Diversity Communications Director. Blair comes from a newspaper background. He worked previously for the Indianapolis Star (2002-2008) and for the Des Moines Register (1997-2002) prior to that.

Cummins Westport plays key role in LA’s goal of a zero-emissions bus fleet

LA Metro natural gas bus
The Metro system in Los Angeles is updating its natural gas fleet with near zero emission engines from Cummins Westport (Image courtesy of Metro. © 2018 LACMTA)

The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) will soon begin an important step toward its goal of a zero-emissions bus fleet by 2030. Starting in early 2018, Metro will begin taking delivery of up to 395 Cummins Westport L9N natural gas engines.

The engine’s exhaust emissions will be 90 percent lower than the current Environmental Protection Agency limit for NOx, a key contributor to smog. In addition, the transit system will test the use of Renewable Natural Gas (RNG), produced by landfills, water filtration plants, food waste and other sources – not extracted from the ground.

If all goes well, the majority of buses in the United States’ third largest transit system, serving some 1.3 million passengers daily, could be using RNG within the next few years.

“Our 2018 product line demonstrates an important milestone in product development for Cummins Westport, creating a move to a zero emissions strategy for our customers and industry,” said Rob Neitzke, President of Cummins Westport. “We’re excited to be part of such an important project as this initiative in Los Angeles.”

Metro will also study the use of electrification on two key commuter lines. While its leaders believe that may be the ultimate solution to reaching the system’s 2030 goal, the combination of the new near zero natural gas engines and the use of a renewable fuel source will arguably get Metro closer to “true zero” than any other metropolitan transit system in the country.

“As we continue our transportation revolution, we must continue to make sustainable practices the norm,” said Metro CEO Phillip A. Washington in a news release earlier this year announcing the 2030 goal. “We hope our move toward a zero emission fleet will inspire other transit agencies across the nation to consider this as a possibility.”

Former "Mythbuster" Jamie Hyneman talks about the benefits of Renewable Natural Gas as a fuel source in a new video for Cummins. 


Cummins Westport is a joint venture between Cummins and Westport Fuel Systems to produce 12 liter and smaller natural gas engines for North American markets. The new ISX12N and the L9N will be the lowest certified NOx emission engines available in North America in 2018. In addition to certifying 90 percent below the EPA’s current NOx limits, the engines also certify well below the 2017 EPA greenhouse gas (GHG) emission requirements.

Metro awarded Cummins a $26.5 million contract this past June to begin supplying its new near-zero L9N engines, produced at Cummins’ Rocky Mount Engine Plant in Rocky Mount, North Carolina (U.S.A.), for installation in its fleet to provide immediate air quality improvements.

In addition, Metro has established a one-year pilot program with Clean Energy Fuels, the leading provider of natural gas fuel for transportation in North America, to supply its Redeem™ brand of Renewable Natural Gas to one of the transit system’s 11 Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) stations around Los Angeles County. It will provide fuel for approximately 200 CNG buses. Clean Energy Fuels says an additional option would allow it to provide RNG for four more years, serving all of the region’s CNG buses.

The plan provides an interesting twist in the debate over alternative fuels. By now you’ve probably heard the arguments. Are the advantages of non-renewable natural gas outweighed by the methane released during the extraction process? If electricity comes from a coal-fired power plant, is it really zero emissions? Does the energy needed to produce bio fuels diminish their environmental benefits?

By using the natural gas produced in waste treatment and reduction efforts, advocates say RNG is a “carbon neutral” or “carbon negative” fuel. It makes use of something that would otherwise be released into the atmosphere causing harm. While critics question whether there’s enough RNG available to make a significant difference, advocates maintain there’s plenty of room for growth, especially in California.

The American Biogas Council, for example, estimates California, a leader in the production of RNG, has enough biogas to support roughly five times as many projects as it currently has, potentially producing enough electricity to power about 182,000 homes or fuel more than 435,000 vehicles while significantly reducing GHGs in the state.


Cummins believes every customer’s power needs and circumstances are a little bit different, so the company offers a broad portfolio of products that enable customers to choose what makes the most sense for them.

These include industry leading clean diesel engines and high-tech hybrids in addition to Cummins’ and Cummins Westport’s natural gas engines. And starting in 2019, Cummins will offer an all-electric powertrain for transit and delivery vehicles, maintaining electrification initially makes the most sense in buses and trucks operating in urban areas.

The company’s goal is to provide the right technology at the right time and in the right place to fuel customer success.

“For those customers where natural gas makes sense, we offer the cleanest technology there is on the market today, with a proven service network to back it up,” said Cummins Westport’s Neitzke. “Our partnership with Metro is a great example. We want to help them achieve their goal of a cleaner environment for all the residents of Los Angeles.”

blair claflin director of sustainability communications

Blair Claflin

Blair Claflin is the Director of Sustainability Communications for Cummins Inc. Blair joined the Company in 2008 as the Diversity Communications Director. Blair comes from a newspaper background. He worked previously for the Indianapolis Star (2002-2008) and for the Des Moines Register (1997-2002) prior to that.

Video: Cummins-Powered Freightliner Holds Its Own in Truck Pull

It may surprise some to see a daycab Freightliner Cascadia with the new Cummins 12 liter engine showing up to a county fair and competing in a truck pull, but the truth is that it shouldn’t. Dating back to Cummins early beginnings, the company has held a belief in putting its products on display and letting their performance speak for themselves. When Cummins built the 2018 X12 engine, the X12 team didn’t want customers to just take their word that it was lighter and stronger – they set out to prove it.

Cummins X12 Technical leader, Craig Hetismer, took the challenge of competing against the big dogs with the X12. Being smaller in displacement and much lighter in weight, can the X12 hold its own at a local truck pull against the legendary and bulletproof N14? Watch the video above to see for yourself.

For more X12 product information visit the Cummins website. Also, be sure to check out another new X12 video, “Birth of the X12”.

blair claflin director of sustainability communications

Blair Claflin

Blair Claflin is the Director of Sustainability Communications for Cummins Inc. Blair joined the Company in 2008 as the Diversity Communications Director. Blair comes from a newspaper background. He worked previously for the Indianapolis Star (2002-2008) and for the Des Moines Register (1997-2002) prior to that.

Repower Profile: Cummins Jeep Wrangler

Cummins repowered Jeep overlooking desert

First in the line-up of “Repower Profiles” is our own Jeep Wrangler (TJ). This Wrangler started life as an ordinary Jeep, but with help of dedicated Cummins engineers and Axis Industries, it was the first test vehicle to have an R2.8 Turbo Diesel under the hood.

Cummins is excited to announce the launch of our “Repower Profile” series, featuring technical information and unique facts about vehicles repowered with the R2.8 Turbo Diesel.The maiden voyage for this Jeep was a six hour drive to Toledo, Ohio, for the first Toledo Jeep Fest. Since then, this Jeep has had more than 20,000 trouble free miles added to the odometer and continues to be both a fan and employee favorite, as it makes the rounds on engineering and marketing trips.

Click here to download your free poster with details about this build.

Vehicle Info

  • Year: 2000 (emissions exempted test vehicle)
  • Make: Jeep
  • Model:  Wrangler TJ - Sahara


  • Engine: Cummins Repower R2.8L Turbo Diesel
  • Motor Mounts: Axis Industries USA
  • Transmission: original equipment NV3550 five-speed manual
  • Transmission Adapter: Axis Industries USA 4.0L adapter
  • Transfer case(s): original equipment NP231
  • Front axle/differential: original equipment Dana 30, 3.73:1 gears
  • Rear axle/differential: original equipment Dana 35, 3.73:1 gears

Cooling Package

  • Radiator: Stock TJ 4.0L radiator
  • Fan: Spal 16” electric with shroud
  • Charge Air Cooler: Axis Industries USA


  • Front: 2-in-lift Tera Flex springs/shocks, WJ lower control arms
  • Rear: 2-in-lift Tera Flex springs/shocks
  • Steering: Original Equipment


  • Tires: 31x10.50R17 Goodyear Duratrac
  • Wheels: 17x7 10-hole steel wheels (2005 Dodge Magnum)


  • Lighting: Original Equipment
  • Armor: ProComp front and rear bumpers
  • Hood: Daystar hood latches
  • Fuel Tank: Original Equipment with Axis Industries USA fuel pump bypass

Cool Stuff

  • Not moving the location of the factory transmission allows for stock driveshafts to be retained. No suspension lift required to install the engine.

Learn More About the R2.8 Turbo Diesel

blair claflin director of sustainability communications

Blair Claflin

Blair Claflin is the Director of Sustainability Communications for Cummins Inc. Blair joined the Company in 2008 as the Diversity Communications Director. Blair comes from a newspaper background. He worked previously for the Indianapolis Star (2002-2008) and for the Des Moines Register (1997-2002) prior to that.

Repower Profile: TAV Toyota Xtra Cab

Repowered TAV Toyota Xtra Cab in front of Cummins building

From sea level to over 13,500 ft., this 1985 Toyota Xtra Cab, built by TAV in Albuquerque, New Mexico, is a testing workhorse for the Cummins R2.8 Turbo Diesel. With engine mounts and a transmission adapter from Axis Industries, the R2.8 Turbo Diesel in this tough truck has been everywhere from off-roading adventures to highway cruising.

cummins r2.8 in toyota pickupAs one of the first Beta customers of the R2.8 Turbo Diesel, this truck features a data-logger that allows Cummins engineers to receive valuable information from a maiden off-roading voyage to FJ Summit to highway cruising and every mile in between.

With a home base in the mountains of Albuquerque, NM, the 1985 Toyota Xtra Cab provides Cummins the opportunity to collect altitude data and real customer feedback in a unique scenario. In addition, to the every-day data that it provides to Cummins engineers, this truck was also tested up the Davis Dam Grade. With miles of experience on the odometer, the builders at TAV note that using a 20” H x 9” W x 2.75” D charge air cooler along with A 20” H x 18” W x 2.5” D 3 core radiator coupled with 17” mechanical fan and custom shroud keep the engine cool even in the toughest conditions.

Click here to download your free poster with details about this build.



Vehicle Info

  • Year: 1985
  • Make: Toyota
  • Model: Xtracab Pickup


  • Engine: Cummins Repower R2.8L Turbo Diesel
  • Transmission: W56 five-speed manual
  • Transfer case(s): Marlin Crawler
  • Low range ratio(s): 2.28:1, 4.70:1
  • Crawl ratio(s): 36.9:1, 76.1:1
  • Front axle/differential: Toyota 8-in HP, 4.10:1 gears/Yukon Grizzly Locker
  • Rear axle/differential: Toyota 8-in IFS width, 4.10:1 gears/Yukon Grizzly Locker


  • Front: Modified 3-in-lift Trail-Gear leaf springs, Bilstein 5100 shocks
  • Rear: Modified 3-in-lift Trail-Gear leaf springs, Bilstein 5100 shocks
  • Steering: Trail-Gear High Steer Kit


  • Tires: 35x12.50R15LT Goodyear MT/R
  • Wheels: 15x8 steel


  • Lighting: Rigid Industries D-Series Dually
  • Armor: Custom TAV front bumper, Marlin Crawler rear bumper with custom TAV rear tire carrier and full spare, custom TAV hood cowl, Front Runner bed rack

Cool Stuff

  • Smittybilt XRC 9,500-lb winch with Viking synthetic rope, Corbeau bucket seats, FW Murphy engine temp gauge, Pioneer sound system with 12-in sub, James Baroud Evasion rooftop tent, ARB fridge

Learn More About the R2.8 Turbo Diesel

blair claflin director of sustainability communications

Blair Claflin

Blair Claflin is the Director of Sustainability Communications for Cummins Inc. Blair joined the Company in 2008 as the Diversity Communications Director. Blair comes from a newspaper background. He worked previously for the Indianapolis Star (2002-2008) and for the Des Moines Register (1997-2002) prior to that.

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