Cummins and TM4 have announced a joint effort to develop a plug-in hybrid powertrain for Class 7/8 transit buses.  Reportedly the new set-up can reduce fuel consumption by at least 50% over conventional hybrid buses.

As some background on the partners, TM4 it is one of the largest suppliers of electric powertrains, already delivering roughly 5,000 units in China last year, while Cummins is well known from its internal combustion engines, which have started to turn to plug-in hybrids recently, perhaps already seeing that electrification is the only way to go.

The two intend to use optimized engines as range extenders (see image).

Unveiling of the joint plug-in hybrid powertrain is scheduled at UITP, taking place in Montreal, from May 15-17th, 2017.

According to the pair, up to 35 km (22 miles) of all-electric range, charged up in 5 minutes - 450 kW fast charging is the target.

"With their expertise in internal combustion engines and related products, Cummins researchers will optimize the powertrain by selecting the engine with the best architecture to use as an electric commercial vehicle range extender, using the engine to manage the charge level of the all-electric drive battery pack. The range extender will be integrated, using advanced vehicle controls, with the electrified powertrain and other applicable technologies."

Said Robert Baril, Managing Director of TM4 said:

“TM4 has always innovated to serve the market needs. Today, our customers can buy battery electric or hybrid buses with limited EV range. Our goal is to offer a system that can achieve 35 km EV range and benefit from the 450 kW fast charging infrastructure to recharge in less than 5 min. The range extender allows for peace of mind and significant flexibility. We are honored to be partnering with Cummins and hope to bring this product to market in the near future,”.

Wayne Eckerle, VP, Cummins Research and Technology said:

“The close integration and control of the electrified powertrain with an appropriately selected engine is critically important to developing a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle system.  We believe that through the team’s efforts we can become a  significant player in electrification of commercial vehicles by providing complete systems to benefit our global customers. ”