Hyliion, Cummins Collaborate on Electric and NG Range-Extender

The companies are working to bring a natural-gas Hypertruck ERX powertrain to the North America heavy-duty truck market by late 2023.

Hyliion’s Hypertruck ERX powertrain provides 75 miles of electric range and can achieve up to 1,000 miles of full range through the NG-fueled onboard generator. (Hyliion)

A recent market report  found that nearly 85% of the almost 250 U.S.-based transportation fleets surveyed plan to grow their use of clean-vehicle technologies over the next five years. Fleets will have one more option come late 2023.

The Hyliion Hypertruck ERX is an electric range-extender semi-truck powertrain that employs onboard power generation to recharge the batteries. (Hyliion, 2020 graphic)

Hyliion, an Austin, Texas-based provider of electrified powertrains for Class 8 semi-trucks, and Cummins announced a collaboration to optimize Cummins’ ISX12N natural gas (NG) engine as the onboard generator for Hyliion’s Hypertruck ERX powertrain. The Hypertruck ERX provides 75 miles (120 km) of electric range and qualifies for credits under CARB’s upcoming ZEV mandates. The truck reportedly can achieve up to 1,000 miles (1,610 km) of full range through the NG-fueled generator recharging the batteries.

“We are excited to work with Hyliion to offer this range-extender electric and natural-gas powertrain in the North America heavy-duty truck market,” J. Michael Taylor, general manager Global Powertrain Integration, Cummins Inc., said in a statement. “Natural-gas solutions are an integral part of our journey towards zero emissions. Integrating our engine with the Hyliion Hypertruck ERX solution is key to offering our customers a portfolio of powertrains across many fuel options to meet their sustainability goals.”

Cummins’ ISX12N natural-gas engine is being optimized as the onboard generator for Hyliion’s Hypertruck ERX powertrain. (Cummins)
Cummins is expanding its natural-gas offerings as part of its “fuel-agnostic” ICE platform that sees about 80% parts commonality (red portion of engine) between the different low-carbon-fuel variants. (Cummins)

The companies plan to obtain key environmental certifications for Cummins’ natural-gas ICEs to be used in the Hypertruck ERX powertrain. “Attaining EPA and CARB certifications is a key step on our production path,” said Thomas Healy, founder and CEO of Hyliion. “I look forward to working with Cummins to get our Hypertruck ERX on the road and making a positive impact on the environment.”

Start of production for the Hypertruck ERX with the ISX12N engine is expected in late 2023. Low-cost refueling is a major benefit of the powertrain solution, the companies note. According to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Alternative Fuels Data Center, nearly 900 public compressed natural gas (CNG) fueling stations are available in the U.S. as of 2021.

The aforementioned State of Sustainable Fleets report, authored by clean-technology consulting firm Gladstein, Neandross & Associates, found that fuel-cost savings is the primary advantage for deploying NG units among 79% of the surveyed fleets. Most fleets that have piloted or purchased CNG trucks in the past two years also have reported equal or better performance on emissions (96% of fleets), noise (87%), fuel supply (67%) and total cost of ownership (57%) as compared to diesel, according to the report.

Cummins also is expanding its NG offerings as part of its “fuel-agnostic” ICE strategy announced earlier this year. These platforms will use engine blocks and core components that share common architectures – about 80% parts commonality, according to Cummins – but are optimized for different low-carbon fuel types that include NG and hydrogen. The design approach will be applied to B-, L- and X-Series engines, with rollout of select units expected to begin in the 2024 timeframe.