Reducing commercial transportation emissions to reach destination zero


After decades of debate, last year’s COP26 Conference in Glasgow united the world in one truth: climate change is the existential crisis of our time. And we are at a critical moment in this fight; with data clearly illustrating a ceiling of 900 giga tons of CO2 to keep global warming below 2o Celsius1. Meanwhile, the transportation sector continues to be at center stage, becoming the biggest contributor to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the United States, surpassing even electricity generation. But just as history has always been punctuated by innovation, we have the necessary solutions to reverse our path if we are brave enough to face the problem head on and act with decisive purpose.  

Carbon is one of the most abundant elements in the universe and the epicenter of the climate crisis, constituting three quarters of GHGs. There is no doubt in the scientific community that man-made carbon emissions are pushing humanity towards a point of no return, but the sources of these emissions are still the subject of considerable finger pointing. When we pull back and try to see our changing world through a clear lens, a fundamental paradigm emerges that cannot be ignored if we are to combat climate change at the source: Growing economic prosperity is an impactful driver of rising carbon emissions.

Three components of the technology roadmap to destination zero

As the global economy grew, we pulled more than a billion people out of extreme poverty and expanded the middle class. The Brookings Institute, for example, marked 2018 as the first year where over half of the world’s population lived in the middle class and rich households. This growing economic prosperity stimulated trade, infrastructure development, and industrial activity – and unfortunately, drove the growth in carbon emissions. This intrinsic link between prosperity and carbon emissions begs the question: can healthy economic growth and a healthy planet co-exist? Yes, investing in decarbonization is one of the most promising growth opportunities for our generation; and progress in it can make our society more prosperous and our planet healthier at the same time. 

This journey to Destination Zero, which highlights Cummins’ journey towards eliminating carbon emissions, is rooted in a comprehensive technology roadmap for transportation and mobility with three primary components: Zero emissions technologies such as battery electric and fuel cell electric, low to zero carbon fuels, and fuel agnostic powertrain platforms as transition technologies.  

No.1: Zero emission technologies such as battery electric and fuel cell electric 

Today, battery electric and fuel cell electric solutions are economically and operationally viable for select commercial transportation use cases. These zero-carbon technologies are already helping with local emissions and air quality issues as they emit no carbon from a tank to wheel perspective. Moreover, when their energy source is green, for example renewable electricity used for battery electric buses, these technologies can offer zero carbon emissions from a well-to-wheel perspective. We already partner with school and transit bus manufacturers for all-electric applications, and there is even a passenger train in commercial operation that is powered by fuel-cell electric technology.  

Transportation sector became the sector with the highest GHG emissions in the U.S.

We have impressive technologies at our disposal, yet there are still many commercial transportation applications that face major roadblocks to electrification. Economic viability, mission accomplishment, and infrastructure support are the key factors behind these hard to electrify applications. One school of thought is to wait for battery-electric or fuel cell electric technologies to catch up to these applications, but we simply cannot afford to release more carbon emissions every day that we cannot take back. Every gram of carbon emitted will contribute to climate change. In the U.S. alone, medium and heavy-duty trucks emit over one million metric tons of CO2 every single day2. For these hard to electrify commercial transportation applications, there are options available today to significantly reduce or fully eliminate carbon emissions: low to zero carbon fuels. 

No.2: Low to zero carbon fuels lower and eliminate carbon emissions on a well-to-wheel basis 

Low to zero carbon fuels emit less carbon, on a well-to-wheel basis, than diesel fuel when used to produce power. I categorize these low to zero carbon fuels into four groups. 

First is low-carbon fuels. These fuels still emit carbon when burned but emit less carbon than diesel fuel. Second is carbon neutral fuels. These fuels also emit carbon when burned, but the carbon emissions are fully offset by another activity. Third is zero carbon fuels. These fuels do not emit carbon at all when burned. For example, green hydrogen is a zero-carbon fuel. Fourth is carbon negative fuels. These are the fuels where the impact of the fuel generation and consumption results in a net reduction in GHG emissions.  

From this crowded field of low to zero carbon fuels, few will be the most impactful: hydrogen, natural gas, and biodiesel. Beyond these three, synthetic fuels – also known as e-fuels, are an exciting additional technology that may emerge as a dominant factor in the future. 

Hydrogen is an increasingly popular energy carrier. This is primarily because it is a zero-carbon fuel when produced using renewable energy sources like solar, wind and hydropower to electrolyze water. Hydrogen can fuel vehicles through an internal combustion engine or hydrogen fuel cell and deliver impressive reductions in carbon emissions. A model year 2027 Class 8 sleeper cab semi, powered by a hydrogen engine and fueled by green hydrogen, would save 1,437 metric tons of CO2 over its life versus its diesel-powered counterpart3. These are impressive environmental gains, but hydrogen faces two primary roadblocks today: infrastructure readiness and the abundant availability of green hydrogen – a zero carbon fuel well to wheel.  

As opposed to hydrogen, natural gas is a fossil fuel, but it produces less carbon that other fossil fuels such as diesel. Natural gas also offers important emission reductions now as the infrastructure for zero carbon technologies continues to develop. In certain use cases, renewable natural gas (RNG) can be carbon negative, as well. For example, RNG produced from degradation of organic matter, that would otherwise be left to emit methane emissions, has negative carbon intensity. Meanwhile, there are two on-going debates around natural gas’ role in reducing carbon emissions. First, it is widely accepted that a portion of natural gas’ tail-pipe emissions gains is offset by methane leakages through pipelines. Second, the math behind RNG’s negative carbon intensity. It is important to recognize not all RNG has negative carbon intensity, and we should evaluate how the methane captured was originated and the efficiency of RNG transportation to determine whether the subsequent RNG usage results in a net reduction in GHG emissions.   

Biodiesel is a renewable fuel produced primarily from fats and vegetable oils. The plants used as feedstock to produce biodiesel withdraw carbon from the atmosphere, and when biodiesel is burned, it returns the same carbon atoms back to the atmosphere; theoretically, this makes biodiesel carbon neutral4. Practically, the emissions generated while growing these crops and producing biodiesel also need to be considered. B20 is already in our lives today with many engines capable of running on it; the next step towards lowering emissions will be to have engines that can run on B40 and then on B100, pure biodiesel.  

Synthetic fuels, or e-fuels, come in various forms; e-diesel and e-gasoline are the two that are more relevant for commercial transportation applications. These fuels can be produced using CO2 and green hydrogen; therefore, they are carbon-neutral, since they release the carbon that was originally used to create them back to the atmosphere. Moreover, they can also leverage our existing fueling infrastructure. Currently, there are two obstacles around these fuels: their high cost and limited availability.  

Infrastructure readiness is a common obstacle for increased adoption of some low to zero carbon fuels. Meanwhile, there are commercial transportation applications that do not require an extensive network of fueling stations and other infrastructure. For example, fleets operating medium and heavy-duty trucks can create itineraries using a small number of fueling stations placed along fixed routes. This can then drive the needed infrastructure buildup. 

Today, these low to zero carbon fuels are available for those looking to advance their decarbonization efforts. And their usage can be expanded with the help of a familiar technology: internal combustion engines – but with an innovative twist: fuel agnostic engine platforms. These platforms are the means to help us realize the benefits of low to zero carbon fuels. 

No.3: Fuel-agnostic engine and powertrain platforms can expand the use of low to zero carbon fuels 

Fuel agnostic engine platforms feature a series of engine versions that are derived from a common base engine. The bottom end of the engine looks the same, and unique cylinder heads are designed to accommodate a different low or zero carbon fuel. Each engine version operates using a specific type of  fuel, including diesel, propane, natural gas, or hydrogen. These engines take advantage of existing technology and can reduce GHG emissions using low and zero carbon fuels. They have familiar operating practices, vehicle installation, and performance characteristics with today’s diesel engines. These fuel-agnostic platforms are ideal for use cases where battery-electric and fuel cell electric solutions are not yet financially or operationally feasible. This is an industry first of developing fuel agnostic internal combustion engines from the ground up. This is our effort to mix and match the right engines for the right applications as we move towards a zero emissions future.  

It is also important to remember that these three components within the technology roadmap are not binary choices. You can combine battery electric solutions with fuel agnostic powertrain platforms to create hybrid solutions for the right use cases.

Climate change is the existential crisis of our time, and an increasing number of governments and companies around the world have already pledged to be carbon zero or negative. These solutions offer a viable path in this journey over the next couple of decades. But end users should not wait to take tangible steps in their journeys. Now is the time to decarbonize. Our planet cannot wait. And now, end users have the tools and innovations needed to charter their own unique paths to Destination Zero.



1Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. (August 2021). Climate Change 2021, The Physical Science Basis [PDF file]. Retrieved from   

2United States Environmental Protection Agency. (December 2021). U.S. Transportation Sector Greenhouse Gas Emissions.[PDF file]. Retrieved from 

3Analysis conducted using U.S. EPA's Greenhouse Gas Emissions Model (GEM) for Medium- and Heavy-Duty Vehicle Compliance. Assumed 19 tons payload, 120,000 thousand miles per year use. Retrieved from  

4United States Energy Information Administration. (n.d.). Biofuels explained, Biomass-based diesel and the environment. [Web page]. Retrieved from 

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Srikanth Padmanabhan

Srikanth Padmanabhan

Srikanth Padmanabhan is Vice President and President of the Engine Business, the largest of Cummins’ four business segments. In this role, he pushes the boundaries of customer-focused innovation to position Cummins as the leading powertrain supplier of choice, with its portfolio ranging from diesel and natural gas to hybrid and electric powertrains. Read more about Srikanth's more than 30 years at Cummins.

Hurricane Sally no match for Florida couple and their home standby generator

Family with dog standing next to Cummins home standby generator

Three months. That’s how little time Macy and Sherry Summers had between the installation of their new Cummins QuietConnect™ home standby generator and its first major test: the arrival of Hurricane Sally.

The Category-2 hurricane stalled over the Pensacola, Fla. area for nearly 12 hours in September 2020, bringing 110-mph winds, torrential rain and major power outages. While many of their neighbors worried about their home flooding during the storm, the Summers were secure, knowing their Cummins generator would help pull them through.

“I was very concerned that if too much water got near the house, it could come in,” said Macy. “Without power, we couldn’t run our pumps, we couldn’t take the water away from our pool. That was the big fear for me.”

The new Cummins generator came through big time, powering their home and three sump pumps during the storm and running nearly 90 hours with one break for an oil change before power was restored.

Its performance was no surprise for Macy, a former Lockheed Martin engineer. Upon moving permanently into the home in 2019, he used his research acumen to find the best way to power their home through a storm. After 18 months, he decided on a Cummins QuietConnect Home Standby Generator because of the brand reputation, build quality and support.

“The brand was really important to us. We wanted to have a good support system from a large company we knew would be there if we needed it. It turns out that Cummins was the right one for us,” said Macy.

“I would certainly recommend Cummins over the brands that most people have heard of. Cummins is a stronger solution for somebody who wants that reliability.”

For the installation, the Summers contracted with Emergency Standby Power, their local Cummins dealer in nearby Fort Walton Beach, which also services and maintains the generator for them.

Said Raul Perez who oversees generator installations for Emergency Standby Power, “We try to partner with a product we know is going to be reliable that we’re comfortable servicing, that we’re comfortable installing and that we’re comfortable standing behind. That means a lot. We do like working with Cummins, because when we call and we need support, they’re always there.”

According to Sherry, the QuietConnect generator lives up to its name. “It’s amazing that when we hear it come on, we’ll always say, ‘Oh, there’s the generator. The power must be off.’ We just keep going about whatever we’re doing,” she said. 

After the hurricane, the Summers have complete confidence in their Cummins generator. Sherry says she no longer worries about food spoiling, keeping the house cool and keeping the pool pumps running. 

Macy adds, “If a hurricane comes, my peace of mind really is around these systems we’ve put in to protect our home. They’ll now have constant power, enabled by the generator.”

Find the perfect generator for your home by visiting Cummins generator size calculator.

To hear the Summers tell their own story, watch the video of them below.

Cummins Office Building

Cummins Inc.

Cummins, a global power technology leader, is a corporation of complementary business segments that design, manufacture, distribute and service a broad portfolio of power solutions. The company’s products range from internal combustion, electric and hybrid integrated power solutions and components including filtration, aftertreatment, turbochargers, fuel systems, controls systems, air handling systems, automated transmissions, electric power generation systems, microgrid controls, batteries, electrolyzers and fuel cell products.

Cummins launches new twinpack rental power diesel generator

Cummins logo at the entrance of Fridley plant

Cummins Inc. (NYSE: CMI) has launched a new 1MW twinpack rental generator, the C1000D6RE, which offers a competitive rental power solution for a diverse range of applications throughout North America. Manufactured by Cummins, a company that has been synonymous with technology, reliability and service since 1919, the new C1000D6RE model will be built in Fridley, Minnesota.

As a twinpack, the C1000D6RE combines two Cummins 15L, 500kW generators into a single, 40ft power unit, complete with aftertreatment. This enables the C1000D6RE to meet Tier 4 final emissions regulation while delivering reliable, high output performance. The generator can be used in parallel with other rental power solutions and is capable of masterless load demand.

The C1000D6RE offers a 1000kW power rating as per ISO 8528 and is powered by 2 x U.S Tier 4 Final certified QSX15 Cummins engines. The QSX15 engine meets the stringent EPA standards without the need of a Diesel Particulate Filter (DPF) which offers ease of serviceability, lower emissions and greater performance.

A new heavy-duty trailer and hitch design ensures even greater reliability for rugged mobile power applications. The generator’s container is capable of withstanding extreme weather conditions, while a full sound attenuation package minimizes the generator’s noise levels. For faster and cleaner oil changes, a ‘Quick Fit’ oil evacuation system option is also provided.

Weighing in at 69,000lbs with fuel, the C1000D6RE comes equipped with a front-end stabilizer and mobile air-ride to reduce the impacts of travel, minimizing potential down time.

The C1000D6RE is suitable for use across a wide range of large-scale industries requiring rental power, including: construction sites, emergency power, large scale events, industrial buildings and utilities located in remote locations or urban areas.

John Gibbons, Rental Power Markets Director at Cummins, said: “We’ve listened to our customers and developed the C1000DR6RE specifically to meet their demands. We also wanted to prioritize the production of a generator that continues to provide reliable power solutions, regardless of climate, location or industry. We believe this product will provide markets with greater reliability, improved performance and increased flexibility.” 

The 1MW twinpack model can be used for a diverse range of industries requiring mobile power; ranging from construction sites, industrial buildings and utilities located in remote locations or urban areas. The remote start and stop contact functionality allows the generator set to be switched on and off upon demand without the need of local maintenance support. As a result, customers can expect more stability, greater uptime and lower labor costs leading to lower total cost of ownership.

To ensure continued performance, Cummins offers customers servicing and maintenance of its mobile power generator range. Cummins aftermarket capabilities are provided through a network of over 200 local sales and service locations across North America; supported by a global system of service technicians, engineers and part distribution centers, experienced in offering mobile power solutions to fit any power requirement.

Cummins Office Building

Cummins Inc.

Cummins, a global power technology leader, is a corporation of complementary business segments that design, manufacture, distribute and service a broad portfolio of power solutions. The company’s products range from internal combustion, electric and hybrid integrated power solutions and components including filtration, aftertreatment, turbochargers, fuel systems, controls systems, air handling systems, automated transmissions, electric power generation systems, microgrid controls, batteries, electrolyzers and fuel cell products.

Euro 7/VII - the missing puzzle piece for improving air quality in Europe

Euro 7/VII - the missing puzzle piece for improving air quality in Europe

The environment is facing an existential crisis and we need to act now by cutting emissions to address poor air quality and stop climate change. Policy makers, industry, academia, and thought leaders must work together to neutralise those threats. The upcoming Euro 7/VII regulation proposal, if ambitious, has the potential to make a significant difference. 

Melina Kennedy, Vice President – Product Compliance and Regulatory Affairs at Cummins Inc.
Melina Kennedy, Vice President – Product Compliance and Regulatory Affairs at Cummins Inc.

The EU is a trail blazer in climate policy and has set clear ambitions to be climate neutral by 2050, through the ambitious European Green Deal. The Fit for 55 Package has been an excellent set of measures to spur the transition, and the RepowerEU plan will now hopefully function as the catalyst needed to create change even quicker. The piece of the puzzle still missing to speed up the transition is the proposed regulations for Euro 7/VII for cars, vans, and heavy-duty vehicles.

At Cummins, we are committed to reaching zero emissions through our Destination ZeroTM strategy. We fully support a tough, clear, enforceable Euro VII regulation that allows us to compete on a level playing field and provides real benefits to the environment. Our technical experts are confident we can meet ambitious targets, and we hope the regulation proposal reflects those ambitions when published.

The European Green Deal strategy mirrors our own Planet 2050 plan at Cummins, where we hold ambitions for all our facilities, operations and products to become climate neutral by 2050. Cummins is a global technology leader committed to meeting the world’s sustainability challenges. We have been innovating for well over 100 years and have a strong footprint in Europe where we design, manufacture, sell and service a broad portfolio of power solutions for transport and energy applications.

On this path to a zero-emission future, adopting cleaner technologies today, like near-zero natural gas products and nearer-to-zero diesel, prior to widespread commercialization of zero-emission technologies for all markets, can make an immediate, positive impact. The Euro VII regulation and its interaction with the heavy-duty vehicle CO2 regulation, therefore, is critical for cutting emissions and improving air quality at the beginning of this journey to a zero-emission future. That near-term step is critical for the heavy-duty sector which, from an air quality and emissions perspective, is much harder to abate than other sectors due to their typical usage demands and weight.

For industry to innovate, we need a clear roadmap and timetable from policy makers on what regulations are approaching in coming years. As the world’s largest independent engine manufacturer in the heavy-duty space, knowing and understanding the Euro VII regulation in full detail is critical to our business and that of our customers.

The regulation timing determines our product planning, technology development, investment decisions and our path to zero-emissions. Any further delay to the proposed July publication of the Euro VII regulation proposal is very difficult for those in the industry who require time to innovate, develop and launch product. We hope the Euro VII regulation will remain on its latest updated schedule, as there is a high level of complexity and corresponding time needed to deliver a new engine technology platform. Cummins is ready to meet the demands of a stringent regulation, but it would require new base engine hardware, new software, new aftertreatment architectures and components, to name just a few. And we want to be sure the lead time is adequate so that the necessary innovation can take place to benefit the environment, our customers and end users with new and reliable technologies.

There is no silver bullet for the heavy-duty sector on the path to zero-emissions. A suite of different power solutions will be needed to meet Euro VII requirements and reach destination zero goals set out in the European Green Deal. Policy proposals taking a technology neutral approach are critical for innovation and will ensure that the Euro VII proposal will be successful. On our innovation journey for the heavy-duty sector, Cummins has unveiled the industry’s first fuel-agnostic internal combustion engine platform, which can be specified to run optimally on different fuels, including diesel, renewable natural gas, or hydrogen. These technologies can enable our customers and end users to step away from fossil fuels and affordably meet the Euro VII requirements.

Cummins has been investing heavily in zero-emission technologies, spending over $1.07 billion (€1 billion) in research and technology each year. Cummins is now a world leader in battery and hydrogen technology, with much of this work taking place in Europe. Cummins has a fuel cell manufacturing plant in Herten, Germany, providing power solutions for trains and trucks. Cummins is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of electrolyzers for green hydrogen production, with facilities in Belgium and a future plant in Spain. And we have a joint venture with NPROXX for manufacturing critical hydrogen tanks for storage and transport in Germany. These are all technologies essential to the creation of a hydrogen economy here in Europe, and to the success of the European Green Deal.

The heavy-duty engine and vehicle industry in Europe has faced more significant challenges over the past three years than in living memory. Brexit, Covid, significant supply chain shortages, and now the crisis in Ukraine. Having a period of regulatory certainty with clear deliverables, whilst meeting the challenge set out in the European Green Deal, will be key to the sector’s success. We ask that the impending Euro VII regulation proposal is timely, clear, ambitious, and technologically neutral in its approach. If so, it would address a missing puzzle piece in turning the corner for the sector, for a more sustainable and prosperous future in Europe.

Melina Kennedy

Melina Kennedy is the Vice President – Product Compliance and Regulatory Affairs for Cummins Inc. Prior to that she served as the Director of Executive Communications at Cummins Inc. where she developed and implemented high level strategies to meet the key communication needs of our senior leaders. Melina is a former candidate for Mayor of Indianapolis and Counsel at Baker and Daniels. She previously served as Director of Economic Development under former Mayor of Indianapolis Bart Peterson where she harnessed her talent as a leader and communicator.

Onan SD20 Generator powers mobile business in Richmond, Va.

Multicolored mobile business powered by SD20 Generator

Located in Virginia, The Sweet Xscape, formally known as Envy’s Whadder Ice, started in 2020 when the pandemic began. Owner and sole proprietor Tierra Mclaurin shared: “I’ve always wanted to get into the Italian Ice business, and this was the perfect time to start since we were on lockdown.”  

McLaurin started small with selling Whadder Ice out of her car with coolers. Once the city started to open up, she wanted to legitimize her business and purchase a truck. Now, McLaurin sells an entire line up of treats including her original Whadder Ice. 

“It’s not only about the quality of the product but it’s the unforgettable experience,” States Mclaurin. Sweet Xscape specializes in blending cereal-infused milkshakes, sundaes, Whadder ice, vegan treats and more.

Sweet Xscape’s premier item, “The Main Event”, is the reason Mclaurin purchased the Onan SD20 generator from Cummins. "We needed a generator with power, and big enough to operate our machine that runs at 16,000kw.  Cummins supplied exactly what we needed."

When Mclaurin began to ask around about generators, her ice cream vendor recommended the Onan SD20, sharing that she would need 16,000 watts in order to power her business. After having the opportunity to see the generator in action in a demo truck, she was sold and excited at the opportunity to realize her dream and bring a unique business to her city.

After thinking she would have to pull a string to crank the generator, Mclaurin was surprised about how easy the Onan SD20 was to operate. “The SD20 is very simple to operate. All you have to do is flip the switches on. After that, it prompts you on which buttons to push to get it running,” she explains. “Once connected to the system you no longer have to go outside the vehicle to get it started. It’s just the flip of a switch and the generator is up and running.”

Mclaurin sitting next to Onan SD20 generator placed inside the mobile business

Having the Onan SD20 allows Mclaurin to provide the ultimate soft serve ice cream experience. “The SD20 allows me to produce multiple cones which is the goal to get my customers served.”

Opening this summer, Sweet Xscapes’ season is just warming up. “Having a reliable generator, we’re not going to miss a beat. Imagine having peanut butter and jelly on an ice cream cone? Thanks to Cummins, we have it at The Sweet Xscape. This generator was well put together, easy to use, quiet and top tier.”

If you’re in need of a heavy-duty generator don’t cheat yourself, treat yourself to the Onan SD20.”

Cummins Office Building

Cummins Inc.

Cummins, a global power technology leader, is a corporation of complementary business segments that design, manufacture, distribute and service a broad portfolio of power solutions. The company’s products range from internal combustion, electric and hybrid integrated power solutions and components including filtration, aftertreatment, turbochargers, fuel systems, controls systems, air handling systems, automated transmissions, electric power generation systems, microgrid controls, batteries, electrolyzers and fuel cell products.

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