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Westport Dropping the 15-Liter HPDI?

September 24, 2013 in NGVs by Rich Piellisch  |  No Comments

Cummins Westport’s ISX12 G Fills the Big Truck Need
But Some Are Disappointed as Flagship Discontinued

Westport Innovations, dealers say, has ceased production of its Westport 15L high pressure direct ignition engine – the product based on the 15-liter Cummins ISX diesel that took the Vancouver company into natural gas vehicles more than a decade ago.

Westport Innovations continues to promote the 15L on its website.

Westport Innovations continues to promote the 15L on its website.

And, according to Westport CEO David Demers, showed the world that natural gas trucking was possible.

“It’s gone,” says a Paccar dealer rep.

“It is being discontinued,” says one operator. “They are no longer making it.”

“I’m really disappointed,” said a Peterbilt dealer. “Things were really starting to rock and roll.”

The ISX12 G Hurt the 15L

Paccar, the sources agree, citing Westport’s decision to discontinue the engine, notified North American Kenworth and Peterbilt dealers that the end of August would be the cutoff date for 15L-powered trucks including the Kenworth T800 and Peterbilt 367. The deadline was extended for some weeks, says one, but orders are no longer being taken.

UPS has been an early adopter of LNG-fueled trucks with the Westport 15L.

UPS has been an early adopter of LNG-fueled trucks with the Westport 15L.

“They can’t compete with the new spark-ignite high horsepower engines,” says a Southern California operator.

The 12.9-liter spark-ignition ISX12 G engine from Cummins Westport satisfies the 400-horsepower requirement, he says. “The 13 pretty much fills the gap,” says another.

Some sources point out that Cummins is planning a 15-liter spark-ignition natural gas engine of its own.

15L Requires LNG Fuel, and SCR

All Kenworth and Peterbilt trucks using the 15L have been shipped with the Westport HD fuel system comprising LNG tanks, a cryogenic pump, and a high-pressure accumulator vessel for introducing the natural gas to the engine, along with a small amount of “pilot” diesel. The diesel required use of an SCR system which added to the 15L-powered vehicles’ cost.

The ISX12 G has the added attraction of being able to run on CNG or LNG – with customers able to choose their fuel system suppliers.

Westport has meanwhile diversified, acquiring BAF from Clean Energy Fuels for a growing range of Ford pickup, shuttle and heavier truck conversions, and venturing into rail, marine and mining truck markets for both engines and fuel systems.

A Westport 15L-powered Kenworth in Tasmania

A Westport 15L-powered Kenworth in Tasmania

No Westport Announcement Yet

Westport has not acknowledged dropping the 15L truck engine, although it noted earlier in the year that just three of the HDPI systems were sold during the first quarter. “We will continue to make the 15-liter engine as long as there is demand for it,” a Westport Innovations (NASDAQ:WPRT) spokeswoman told F&F Tuesday.

“As long as there is demand,” she said, “we’re going to meet it.”

Westport CEO Demers fielded numerous questions on the 15-liter engine during a recent earnings call. “The whole point of the 15 was to demonstrate that natural gas works in trucking,” he said in a published transcript.

“It’s been a huge success at building awareness with LNG but I don’t think we have ever said it was the last product to be held in the market or that it would meet all the needs of everybody,” Demers said, predicting a far wider range of products, including OEM products, satisfying the future natural gas engines needs in the heavy duty sector.

One source close to the trucking industry told F&F this week that the lack of a Westport announcement could mean that Westport is reconsidering, and will indeed maintain 15L production.


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Source: Fleets & Fuels interviews

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