Cummins have been awarded a $4.5-million grant from the United States Department of Energy dedicated to the development of a Class 6 commercial plug-in hybrid vehicle – with the aim being the reduction of fuel consumption by at least 50% over conventional Class 6 vehicles.

With the company’s expertise in internal combustion engines and related products, Cummins researchers aim to optimise the powertrain by selecting the engine with the most promising construction and architecture  – using it as an electric commercial vehicle range extender and in turn enabling the engine to manage the charge level  of the all-electric drive battery pack.

Partnering with Paccar, as well as representatives from Ohio State University, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and the Argonne National Laboratory, the intention is to achieve fuel savings that will meet or exceed expectations in a wide range of cycles and cater to fleet needs.

“The close integration and control of the electrified powertrain with an appropriately selected engine is critically important in the development of a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle system,” notes Wayne Eckerle, Vice President, Research and Technology, Cummins Inc.

“We believe that through the team’s efforts we can soon make these innovations commercially available, which has the potential to translate into substantial savings annually per vehicle, aiding our customers and the environment.”

In addition to the electric properties of the engine, the team are also said to be further investigating other technologies such as electronic braking in order to achieve its goal.