Production in April, Full-Scale Production in August
Autocar, Freightliner, Kenworth, Peterbilt and Volvo can expect to receive limited quantities of the 350-horsepower version of the dedicated-natural gas ISX12 G engine Cummins Westport in April, by which time full U.S. EPA and California certifications will be in place. Limited quantities of the 385- and 400-horsepower versions of the new 11.9-liter spark-ignition engine will become available in July. Full-scale production of all variants is to commence in August.
That’s the word from Cummins Westport president Jim Arthurs, who spoke with Fleets & Fuels on December 19. He acknowledges that the five OEM launch partners would like to have had the new engine sooner: “The initial accumulation of mileage didn’t happen as quickly as it would have in a diesel truck,” he says.
Technical issues arose, with both the fuel systems serving the larger powerplant, and with the engine itself.
Enabler of the Revolution
“We ran into some things,” Arthurs says. But all key technical goals were achieved this past autumn, and the commercialization process is “well in hand now.”
Cummins Westport is, he says, applying “well understood technology” developed for its other spark-ignition engines, most notably the 8.9-liter ISL G, with more than 16,000 in service as of October. Worldwide, Cummins Westport has fielded more than 34,000 engines.
The larger ISX12 G is seen as the enabler for large trucks to haul heavy loads over hills and mountains, solely on compressed natural gas or liquefied natural gas. The four over-the-road development partners all touted new vehicles based on the engine at the Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville.
The engine is necessary to make possible the promise of cheaper fuel (and cleaner operations) engendered by the shale gas revolution and what Arthurs calls a “fundamental” decoupling of natural gas and petroleum prices in North America.
The natural gas vehicles market was for many years driven by environmental considerations and associated government mandates and incentives, he notes. “Now it’s economics and the tremendous price differential between natural gas and diesel fuel.
Navistar? ‘In Discussions’
“We’ve really seen a shift,” Arthurs says. “We’ve seen the appetite for natural gas increasing in the commercial truck sector. There is a fundamental change.”
Arthurs declines to say just how many engines will be allotted to each OEM come April. “They all get a reasonable share,” he says.
As for Navistar, “We’re having discussions,” he says, regarding availability of the ISX12 G. Navistar recently said it would offer TranStar and LoadStar trucks with the 8.9-liter ISL G, beginning next year, and that it wants to offer its Class 8 ProStar over-the-road tractor with the ISX12 G either late next year or early in 2014 (F&F, October 5).
Like the ISL G, the ISX12 G will be manufactured at the Cummins plant in Jamestown, N.Y.
A spark-ignition, 6.7-liter ISB6.7 G is in development for 2015.
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Source: Fleets & Fuels interview