Cummins CEO: Get on the road to net zero emissions – Fuel Smarts
Although much progress has been made towards a net zero carbon emissions trucking industry, the industry is still moving too slowly.
“We need to move faster for the sake of our children and grandchildren,” said Tom Linebarger, CEO of Cummins, during the closing keynote at the Advanced Clean Transportation Expo (ACT Expo) on May 11.
Linebarger said that in terms of its mission statement, Cummins is committed to “enhancing people’s lives by fueling a more prosperous future.”
“In other words, we want to help our clients create wealth,” he explained. “And we do it all over the world. In fact, our challenge is to work in multiple applications in multiple countries dealing with multiple regulations. We try to solve problems all over the world. And that puts Cummins in a unique position to make sure we don’t destroy the planet we live on, even though Cummins engines alone have created a measurable amount of carbon in our atmosphere today.
“And I, for one, don’t want to have to explain to my grandkids one day that I didn’t do anything while the planet was warming. Climate change is the existential crisis of our lives. And we must do better to meet this challenge.
That challenge, according to Linebarger, is to create environmentally friendly products for the trucking industry that perform exactly the same way as today’s conventional products, that are exactly the same size, are maintained in exactly the same the same way and cost the same price. “And we have to get out of it,” he added. “We need to meet all of our customers’ requirements in a way that helps them decarbonize and achieve zero emissions by 20250. And there possesses be a path to net zero. Because if we don’t, we’re creating pretty big problems for the planet.
To do this, Linebarger urged the trucking industry to get on a net-zero path as soon as possible, noting that this leads to more cumulative carbon reduction.
Several clean energy solutions
For its part, Linebarger said Cummins is busy advancing all viable clean energy solutions at once.
“I can’t give you a battery-electric long-haul truck with the range of a diesel truck today, right now,” he said. “I would. But I can’t. But what I can do is give you a natural gas internal combustion engine that will run exactly the way you want it to.
And, in fact, at ACT Expo, Cummins showed off its new X15N natural gas engine for heavy-duty truck applications. It highlighted its new “fuel independent” engine platform which will result in the development of multiple engine models on the same basic engine design.
Looking ahead, Linebarger said it has no idea which technologies will dominate in which truck applications. “Batteries will win for passenger cars – hands down,” he predicted. “Hydrogen seems to be a better choice for mining trucks. But in long-haul applications things are not so clear cut. Fuel cells are advancing rapidly, but hydrogen as a combustible fuel may soon be more viable.(Cummins also unveiled a hydrogen version of its X15 that it says could be available in five years.)
“But we don’t know. We are advancing all of these technologies at the same time. It’s not cheap. But that’s what we do.
Needs beyond the vehicle
And, of course, Linebarger noted, the vehicle aspect of the quest for net zero is only one side of the equation.
“Converting all infrastructure to a fully renewable electric grid will cost several trillions of dollars in the United States alone,” he said. “In addition to that, we need a power grid twice as large as what we have today. It’s going to be a lot of work, and it won’t be cheap. We still have to figure out what technologies we’re going to use – and who’s going to pay for it all. And everyone is okay with all of that, as long as they’re not the ones paying. We need to work with the government to solve this problem. Everyone loves the idea of a fuel cell truck, until someone has to pay to develop the technology.
Still, Linebarger said, Cummins is making rapid progress in its quest for net zero. “We think we’re going to grow and be more profitable because we’re looking at decarbonization,” he said. “We believe that we will be able to provide you with good solutions, which will help you outperform your competitors. But spending twice as much money for the same number of trucks you currently use is not the right first step on this journey. The reason we think we can achieve those goals is that the whole history of Cummins has been about building engines good enough that we can convince OEMs that customers won’t buy their truck unless our engines are in it . So our philosophy has always been that our engines have to be better – otherwise why would anyone choose them over a proprietary engine? »
Good, collaborative relationships with fleets and suppliers will be essential in the race to net zero, Linebarger added. “We all have to share the costs, the risks and the benefits,” he concluded. “At Cummins, we’ve always had to do this for a living. And that’s what we’re going to do now to meet this new challenge.