Local Cummins plant geared up to meet demand

A new set of federal standards for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and improving fuel efficiency for medium-and heavy-duty vehicles is being welcomed by Columbus-based diesel engine maker Cummins Inc.

The Phase 2 standards are expected to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by about 1.1 billion metric tons, save vehicle owners about $170 billion and cut oil consumption by up to 2 billion barrels over the the life of the vehicles sold under the program, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The standards apply to engines, heavy-duty pickup trucks and vans, on-highway tractors, trailers and vocational vehicles and cover models years through 2027. These types of vehicles account for more than 20 percent of greenhouse gas emissions and oil use in the U.S. transportation sector, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Cummins said the regulations would cover its on-highway engines from 200 to more than 600 horsepower output.

“With nearly 100 years of engine expertise, we are well-positioned to develop products that comply with this new rule and meet our customers’ needs,” said Srikanth Padmanabhan, president of Cummins’ Engine business.

The new standards would require certain types of tractors to cut carbon dioxide emissions and fuel consumption by 25 percent compared to the previous Phase 1 standards. Heavy-duty pickup trucks and vans would have to become 2.5 percent more efficient for models years 2021-27, according to the EPA.

Cummins’ efforts will be focused on aspects specific to the engine, so percentages of improvements for the company would not reflect the expectation for the entire truck, said Katie Zarich, manager of external communications for Cummins.

Cummins noted in a news release about the new standards that it was among the first companies to meet the EPA’s on-highway emission standards in 2002, 2007 and 2010 and certified early to meet Phase 1 fuel-efficiency standards in 2013 and 2016.

“These kinds of regulations have been very, very useful for us over the years in that they set the standard for us for the next 10 years, which is very, very helpful. When regulators help us provide some stability over time and tell us this is what you need to do, then it allows us to focus on the right technology,” Padmanabhan said.

Cummins, the largest independent engine maker in the world, added that its newest line of mid-range and heavy-duty engines meet 2017 greenhouse gas and fuel-efficiency standards.

“Fuel efficiency has long been a focus of our technology development. We look forward to reviewing the final rule now that it is published and working with all our stakeholders to make sure both the customer and the environment benefit from it,” said Rich Freeland, Cummins’ president and chief operating officer. “Cummins is ready to tackle complex climate and energy challenges. We are confident we have the engine technologies necessary to meet or exceed improvements required by the Phase 2 engine standards.”

Cummins works collaboratively with regulators and customers to ensure that standards are achieved and customers are successful, Padmanabhan said.

“What I like in general about fuel-efficiency standards is that it ultimately helps the customers — a truck driver or the fleet owner,” Padmanabhan said. “It is money into their pocket.”

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Kirk Johannesen is assistant managing editor of The Republic. He can be reached at johannesen@therepublic.com or (812) 379-5639.