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Cummins unveils electric semi truck before Tesla

31 August 2017

San Francisco: Engine giant Cummins has unveiled a Class 7 concept semi truck - dubbed AEOS - that runs completely on the power of an electric motor and a 140kWh battery pack, reports said on Wednesday.

Despite its somewhat short range, the new concept can still carry up to 44,000 pounds of payload, and it only takes an hour to charge its 140kWh battery back at an 140kWh charging station. Cummins says that by 2020, improvements in battery tech are "expected to reduce" the charge time to 20 minutes. Tesla isn't the only big name in the big rig industry looking at a cleaner future and electric semi trucks. The 18,000-pound tractor cab is made for urban deliveries, chiefly because the operational range is 100 miles (160 kilometers) on a full charge.

In May this year, Cummins formed a new internal organization led by Sherry Aaholm, its chief information officer, called the "Digital Accelerator". For longer trips, Cummins includes the option of additional battery packs to triple the range, or equipping a range-extending engine generator.

Because Cummins makes powertrains and not whole vehicles, it's enlisted the help of Roush Industries to actually build and assemble the new lorries.

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A new electric powertrain is key, but it can't do it all on its own - the AEON ekes out as much range as it can through low-rolling resistance tires and regenerative braking.

A secret to the capability of the AEOS comes in the form of aerodynamics, with Cummins resorting to cameras instead of conventional side mirrors. The weight of the electric powertrain is roughly equal to that of the engine, aftertreatment, transmission and fuel tank.

At the unveiling in Columbus, Ind., Cummins also revealed its latest near-zero-emissions natural gas engines, as well as the X15 and lightweight X12 clean diesel engines.

Tesla may be the highest-profile company looking to break into EVs designed for commercial hauling, but it's far from the only one.

Cummins unveils electric semi truck before Tesla