There was big news from Cummins earlier today. A press release announced a collaboration with Hyliion for development of a natural gas/battery-powered Class 8 truck. Once rivals in the hybrid powertrain sector, they are now partners to optimize the Cummins-built ISX-12N natural gas engine with the Hyliion-built HyperTruck ERX powertrain.
This is a partnership that might be made stronger because of a merger. Cummins is seeking to acquire powertrain component manufacturer Meritor for $3.5 billion. Hyliion has close ties with Meritor, as many of Meritor’s upper management and/or board members (including former CEO and chairman Jay Craig), sit on the Hyliion board. For those thinking that there might be some form of conflict of interest, Hyliion has not invested in Meritor nor has Meritor invested in Hyliion.
Hyliion could see multiple benefits from this partnership
“Cummins is a large, large player in this space and has a tremendous amount of credibility and confidence from fleets. So, all across the board this helps Hyliion.”– Hyliion Founder and CEO Thomas Healy
Cummins is the leader in natural gas Class 8 truck engines. Its ISX15N 15-liter natural gas engine is planned for release in 2024. Its smaller 12-liter version is already being used in fleet test vehicles. Full production for the Hyliion Hypertruck ERX with the ISX12N Cummins natural gas engine is expected to begin in late 2023. A multitude of preorders are on the Hyliion build calendar.
Could Hyliion grab a piece of the Cummins ICE program?
The planned date for the Cummins ICE hydrogen fuel cell program for Class 8 trucks is 2027. Adapting the Hypertruck ERX for that power source would not be much different than a natural gas powered unit. Cummins has plans for a national compressed hydrogen gas network. It issimilar to the natural gas stations seen around larger truck stops and port fueling stations.
The Hyliion Hypertruck ERX offers 75 miles of electric range to qualify for credits under the California Air Resources Board’s upcoming ZEV mandates. It can achieve up to 1,000 miles of full range through its generator. The ERX also would qualify for a 100% credit under a pending California rule requiring fleets to purchase zero-emission trucks.
For those wanting to avoid the short range woes of the Nikola or Tesla Truck, this might be a viable option. A truck with 1,000 miles of range is nearly what a driver could run legally in a 24-hour period. In addition, less time is used at a high flow natural gas pump than a 30-minute to hour wait at a HyperCharger. That means a few more miles of productivity.