The Future of Fleets: The four keys to electrification – Part 3

Electrified Power - Future of Fleets - Economic Reality BP 3

When it comes to battery electric vehicles, there are four keys to adoption within the commercial vehicle sector. In Part 3 of our four-part blog series, we look at the third hurdle a new technology must overcome: Economic feasibility. 

 

At present, EVs are often more expensive than their conventionally-powered equivalents. One reason for this is inherent material costs, with battery manufacture requiring large quantities of lithium. Yet, as processes are refined, efficiencies are found, and scale increases, the manufacturing costs of lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries are expected to reduce – and the reduction of this cost will be a major enabler for early commercial electric vehicles (EVs) adoption.

In this third part of the ‘Future of Fleets’ whitepaper preview series, we look at the economic considerations for electrification. If you are reading this series for the first time, you can find part one here and part two here.

Economic reality 

Today, the economic decision-making involved in purchasing commercial vehicles is familiar to anyone involved in fleet management. It can be broadly divided into capital expenditure (the up-front cost of the vehicle and infrastructure), operating expenses, and the day to day costs of running the vehicle such as fuel and maintenance requirements. 

EV adoption can involve significant outlay, which varies widely depending on application. While the growing availability of on-street charging points can be leveraged for some commercial vehicle fleets, such as last-mile delivery vans, for other applications, such as buses, owned infrastructure is necessary. New electric fleets may, in fact, demand entirely new configurations of buildings. Charging points can however be shared, meaning that the upfront cost can be reduced. In this way, large electrification projects can deliver a better return on investment than smaller projects.  

From an operational perspective, the two main cost areas are energy and maintenance. Energy costs for EVs are dependent on electricity prices, much as fuel costs today are ultimately dependent on oil prices. Maintenance costs may be minimized through the use of telematics to monitor wear and tear and accurately predict when servicing is required. 

While major capital expenditure is clearly involved, through a combination of falling prices over time and efficiency savings from vehicles sharing charging points, EVs can be – and in the case of delivery trucks already are – economically competitive with diesel options.

How does policy and regulation impact electrification of commercial vehicles? Find out in next week’s ‘Future of Fleets’ blog series.

Download the 'Future of Fleets' report (PDF)

Cummins Office Building

Cummins Inc.

Cummins is a global power leader that designs, manufactures, sells and services diesel and alternative fuel engines from 2.8 to 95 liters, diesel and alternative-fueled electrical generator sets from 2.5 to 3,500 kW, as well as related components and technology. Cummins serves its customers through its network of 600 company-owned and independent distributor facilities and more than 7,200 dealer locations in over 190 countries and territories.

All Aboard: A roundup of Cummins-powered zero-emission transit buses

Cummins-powered zero-emission transit buses

Despite an unprecedented year for riders and the transit bus industry, cities across the globe are continuing to invest in their communities for brighter days ahead. With quiet, zero-emission solutions hitting the road, it won’t be long until you’re taking a ride on a Cummins-powered zero-emission transit bus. 

The GILLIG zero-emission battery electric bus powered by Cummins was first unveiled in 2017 and since then both organizations have worked diligently to engineer, test and validate our offering in all climates and conditions. Riders in the city of Santa Monica were the first to experience the battery electric bus but now with an impressive 20,000 miles on the clock, the electric transit solution has accelerated production and is available for all cities to meet their carbon neutral goals. 

With the transit electric powertrain reaching the production phase and these solutions hitting the market, it’s important to acknowledge a few of our milestones. Join us as we highlight some of our successes and take you on a bus ride like no other.

Hawaii

First stop, Hawaii. The City and County of Honolulu Department of Transportation Services (DTS) was the first to pursue our new electric offering and added their first electric bus to their fleet, TheBus. According to Mayor Kirk Caldwell, this is the first step to reaching their goal of transforming their public bus fleet with 100% renewable fuel by 2035. Funded by the FY2020 Low-No Emissions Bus Program grant award from the Federal Transit Administration, the 40-foot bus can service the majority of the current bus routes in Honolulu. 

Utah

Next on board is Utah. With high hopes of being predominately electric by 2028, The Utah Transit Authority (UTA) is now shifting their attention to electrified power solutions. UTA recently awarded Cummins with our largest electric transit bus order to date. Given the large area UTA serves, length of service on a single charge is important. Depending on duty cycle, the Cummins Battery Electric System (BES) can achieve approximately 200 miles of high-quality service before needing to recharge. When the bus does need charging, UTA plans to use existing charging depots in the Salt Lake City area and aims to consider in-route charging options down the road. 
Cummins and GILLIG are also collaborating closely to ensure readiness and product familiarization to demonstrate our full support and gain customer confidence with this product right off the bat.

Canada

Taking a ride, from USA to Canada, the Canadian transit bus startup, Letenda, has designed a 30-foot bus, specifically intended for electric propulsion. Working to create a future that will bring zero-emission solutions, Letenda first partnered with Cummins in 2017 to help formulate a plan to integrate our BP74E battery pack into their bus. With the powertrain being delivered last year, their first demonstration transit bus is now in operation. 

California

Last stop on our recap journey is California. Last fall, Cummins outlined an ambitious strategy for hydrogen to meet decarbonization goals. Now, North America’s first transit bus powered by Cummins fuel cells is hitting the roads in sunny Palm Springs, California. Working with New Flyer and SunLine Transit Agency, residents will soon be stepping on board a 40-foot fuel cell demonstration bus that was delivered in January 2021. The fuel cell bus is one of several pre-commercial hydrogen fuel cell powered vehicles that will be delivered this year and will provide rich insights that will help shape the next generation fuel cells. 

We salute the cities, governments and organizations that are on route to zero-emission transportation, but this tour is just the beginning. Recently, we have seen how China has become dedicated to transporting future Olympic tourists in fuel cell transit buses, and Australian company Bustech announce their next generation Bustech XDi low floor transit bus will be using Cummins zero-emission battery electric and hydrogen fuel cell technologies

Momentum is continuing to build, and Cummins is ready to support communities on their path to zero emissions with our range of alternative power solutions. As you go about your travels, keep an eye out for Cummins-powered zero-emission transit buses. If you happen to take a trip on one, be sure to snap a photo and tag us on social media! 

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Cummins Office Building

Cummins Inc.

Cummins is a global power leader that designs, manufactures, sells and services diesel and alternative fuel engines from 2.8 to 95 liters, diesel and alternative-fueled electrical generator sets from 2.5 to 3,500 kW, as well as related components and technology. Cummins serves its customers through its network of 600 company-owned and independent distributor facilities and more than 7,200 dealer locations in over 190 countries and territories.

Driving forward: electric school buses inspire art

Cummins Bluebird Electric School Bus

School buses producing zero emissions were once a dream, but Cummins and Blue Bird are now powering zero-emission student transportation for districts nationwide.

With more than 100 battery electric school buses that have been delivered throughout the country, school districts continue to invest in their communities, despite the unprecedented challenges they face during a global pandemic.

But with challenges, come new opportunities. Opportunities to dream big and dream of an even better tomorrow. And who better to dream big than kids?

When the school year started to look different this past fall, Cummins encouraged parents to share their kids’ dreams for the future via social media. From aspiring to be an astronaut, teacher and video game maker, to seeing the oceans and discovering new fish, to “making music that brings people together,” to working for world peace, there was no shortage of big dreams.

And with caretakers, explorers, creators, lifelong learners and simple kindness – the road ahead appears very bright.

Cummins then commissioned artwork to help bring these dreams to life. The mural was donated to a school district in California. The art will be used to help inspire students when they return for in-person learning.

"Education provides the platform for success”, said Brian Wilson, general manager of electrified components at Cummins. “Our company was founded on innovation. We have the best and brightest minds creating solutions that power a more prosperous world. We’re proud to support our communities and hope that this art will inspire students to dream big, innovate, and work hard towards their dreams."

The future looks bright when we unleash the power to dream big and embrace the opportunity that each tomorrow brings.

So, what do your dreams look like?

Cummins Bluebird Electric School Bus

For more information on Cummins-powered Blue Bird electric school buses or to download a printable coloring book of the mural, please visit ElectricDreamBus.com.

Cummins Office Building

Cummins Inc.

Cummins is a global power leader that designs, manufactures, sells and services diesel and alternative fuel engines from 2.8 to 95 liters, diesel and alternative-fueled electrical generator sets from 2.5 to 3,500 kW, as well as related components and technology. Cummins serves its customers through its network of 600 company-owned and independent distributor facilities and more than 7,200 dealer locations in over 190 countries and territories.

Powered by Cummins: XCMG Electric Excavator Makes its Beautiful Debut

Cummins electric excavator

When looking to describe our electrified power applications, many adjectives come to mind, including durable, reliable, safe, and ...beautiful? It's a new (and unusual!) one to add to the list, but this spring, the newly debuted XCMG electric excavator powered by Cummins added “most beautiful” to its list of attributes. Read on to learn more.  electric excavator

Cummins collaborated with XCMG, the 4th largest construction machinery company in the world, to design and build the 3.5 ton electric excavator, which will serve as a technology demonstrator. Often operating on work sites in densely populated towns and cities around the globe, construction equipment must meet stringent emissions requirements and keep noise and disruption to a minimum while getting the job done. The new electric excavator is suitable for working conditions that require more stringent environmental standards and noise reductions.

Powered by Cummins BM5.7E battery modules, the excavator has 45 kWh of battery power. Each battery module is designed for very high shock and vibration capability to endure the harsh conditions of the construction environment. Precise matching between motor and hydraulic system creates an efficient, reliable and quiet drive system, making it ideal for use in urban and suburban construction.

On a single charge of less than six hours, the excavator meets operational needs for a full 8-hour shift. Short charge time means that equipment can be charged overnight, eliminating downtime and taking advantage of off-peak energy savings. 

Construction & Collaboration

Last October Cummins and XCMG cemented their long-standing relationship by signing a strategic cooperation agreement. The agreement ensures close collaboration on developing and integrating comprehensive product lines, value chain and global operations, creating new applications, exploring new markets and sharing resources on research and development for continuous improvement. 

XCMG agreement
In October 2019, Cummins and XCMG cemented their long-standing relationship.

Mirror, mirror on the wall…

XCMG excavatorThe XCMG electric excavator powered by Cummins made its debut at this year's ConExpo, North America’s largest construction show held in Las Vegas, Nevada. The excavator earned its descriptor as "beautiful" because it won the award for the most beautiful machine at ConExpo! Beating some tough contenders to the top spot, the excavator was voted the fairest of them all, and we couldn’t agree more. 

After its win in Vegas, the excavator is now back in China where it will be used in a series of performance and customer tests conducted by Cummins and XCMG, to prove capability of the demonstrator and refine a robust solution for the market.  

Cummins Office Building

Cummins Inc.

Cummins is a global power leader that designs, manufactures, sells and services diesel and alternative fuel engines from 2.8 to 95 liters, diesel and alternative-fueled electrical generator sets from 2.5 to 3,500 kW, as well as related components and technology. Cummins serves its customers through its network of 600 company-owned and independent distributor facilities and more than 7,200 dealer locations in over 190 countries and territories.

Trusted because it's tested: Cummins-powered GILLIG Battery Electric Bus

Cummins-powered GILLIG Battery Electric Bus

Trusted because it’s tested.  

What do sand bags, mountains, a drone and a film crew all have in common? Well, not much, except that they were all an important part of GILLIG and Cummins’ effort to illustrate the extent of the testing and validation process for the Cummins-powered GILLIG battery electric bus.  

Since 2017 when Cummins and GILLIG announced the partnership to work together on developing an industry-leading all-electric powertrain, both organizations have worked diligently to engineer, test and validate our offering. This is no easy feat, but one that helps distinguish us from the competition. As we bring forward new technologies, we do so with the same commitment to quality customers have come to expect. But how?  

I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”  - Thomas Edison

Testing and validation 

A critical piece in bringing forth best-in-class solutions is Cummins commitment to test and validate our offerings against the needs of the customer. For our battery electric system (BES), this means validating products on a component level (e.g. Cummins proprietary BP74E batteries), a powertrain level, and even more broadly working with GILLIG to test performance of the overall bus.  

Ultimately, like most students taking a test, we want to pass. But, just as Thomas Edison noted, the ability to innovate would not be complete without small failures along the way. Testing, and not succeeding is also critical to the process. The failed tests provide insight on the current limits of a product so that designs can be adjusted, and performance optimized to meet the many different scenarios our customers will see in their daily work. We’d be failing our customers, without a few failures along the way.  

Real world conditions

GILLIG and Cummins also take pride in validating our products under real world scenarios, not just ideal conditions. To this end, which was illustrated recently in the gradeability test for the GILLIG bus, various tests were run on the bus as it was loaded with sandbags to simulate the weight of passengers. A powertrain that can operate efficiently, but can only do so empty, is of no value to a community looking to transport people all day, every day.  

Similarly, we work closely with field test customers to refine solutions and deliver a trusted and reliable product. Big Blue Bus in Santa Monica, who received the first field test bus in July 2019, has been a critical partner in providing feedback using real routes and day-to-day operating scenarios. Working with valued customers and end users to identify opportunities that can be enhanced is crucial. The collaboration and partnership that field test customers provide allows us to deliver a product that will meet and exceed customer expectations. Thankfully, the field test has gone well, and as testament to that Big Blue Bus announced that they will be purchasing 18 additional electric buses.  

Trust: a commitment we take seriously 

So, the next time you’re driving up a mountain or simply travelling in your city, and see a Cummins-powered GILLIG battery electric bus, rest assured that it has been through an extensive testing process to ensure safety and reliability. Our customers and communities trust us – and that is something we don’t take lightly.  

Cummins Office Building

Cummins Inc.

Cummins is a global power leader that designs, manufactures, sells and services diesel and alternative fuel engines from 2.8 to 95 liters, diesel and alternative-fueled electrical generator sets from 2.5 to 3,500 kW, as well as related components and technology. Cummins serves its customers through its network of 600 company-owned and independent distributor facilities and more than 7,200 dealer locations in over 190 countries and territories.

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