Cummins working with two companies over faulty engine reports

Cummins is working with two of its customers over engine problems including a recall notice on Ram pickups and a defect reported in Seymour-made train engines for a transit system in California.

A national recall of 2013-15 Ram 2500 model pickup trucks equipped with 6.7-liter Cummins diesel engines has been requested because the engines allegedly do not meet emissions standards, according to a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Michigan, southern division.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) has alleged that a Cummins design for a selective catalytic reduction part in after-treatment for a diesel engine exhaust system did not meet specifications, statutes, regulations, standards and other contractual requirements. FCA has alleged breach of contract and said Cummins has failed to indemnify FCA against claims, losses and damages as a result of the Ram recall.

Cummins and FCA are in a dispute over about $200 million in estimated costs related to the Ram recall, news agency Reuters reported. In its lawsuit, Fiat Chrysler is trying to recoup $60 million from Cummins that was spent to fix 42,000 of the Ram pickup trucks, Reuters reported.

Cummins filed a countersuit against FCA accusing the company of failing to cooperate with Cummins about the repairs and holding Cummins and its own customers hostage in the situation, according to Reuters.

Cummins and FCA are working collaboratively to resolve an issue with a third-party after-treatment system purchased by FCA as quickly as possible, said Jon Mills, Cummins spokesman.

“As part of this, we have an ongoing dispute regarding the financial responsibility. Our customers are our first priority, and customer notification is expected to begin in mid-November,” Mills said.

In a statement from FCA, the company said it remains committed to working with Cummins to ensure that any necessary repairs are carried out effectively and efficiently for FCA vehicle owners.

“While we believe that Cummins, which sought and holds the emissions certifications on its diesel engines, is primarily responsible for any recall, we are working to achieve an equitable resolution to this matter,” the FCA statement said.

Despite the lawsuit and countersuit, Mills said that Chrysler/FCA and Cummins have been strong partners for more than 30 years and Cummins looks forward to continuing that partnership.

Train engines

The other dispute involves train engines Cummins supplied for the Sonoma Marin Area Retail Transit District (SMART) in California.

Sonoma officials are sending 14 new Cummins engines for their rail system back to the company to be rebuilt after a similar Cummins-built engine in a rail car serving the Toronto Pearson International Airport malfunctioned about three months ago, transit district officials said.

The rail cars were planned to power passenger service along a 43-mile rail line from Santa Rosa to San Rafael in California beginning late this year, transit district officials said.

In July, the transit district was notified by the Toronto airport rail service that a Cummins engine in one of the Toronto trains had a “complete in-service destructive failure.”

The Toronto rail car lost power when a piston rod penetrated the engine block, according to a notification from the Sumitomo plant in Rochelle, Illinois, which assembled the rail cars that included the Cummins-built engines.

In September, the Sonoma transit district learned the failure was due to an underlying design flaw in the crankshaft.

Representatives from California engineering firm LTK Engineering services, hired by the transit authority to investigate, went to the Cummins engine facility in Seymour and met with Cummins officials, train car builder Nippon Sharyo and Sumitomo. At that meeting, the representatives and Cummins agreed the engines would be rebuilt with a new crankshaft designed for the life of the engine, transit district officials said.

Mills said Cummins proactively identified the need for one of the engine components, the crankshaft, to be replaced in order to improve the quality of the QSK 19 “Hedgehog” engines used by the transit district.

The district had been planning to launch its passenger service by the end of 2016. Understanding that timetable, Cummins shared its analysis that the component could safely be replaced at midlife service point, Mills said.

“This replacement schedule would avoid delay of the launch as well as future disruption of service,” Mills said.

However, the transit district chose to have the component replaced before launching its service, he said.

Transit officials confirmed they are delaying the launch of their rail line until next spring as a result of the engine replacements. If one of the engines should fail, the transit district has concerns about passenger safety and the ability to operate the rail line without interruption if there are engine failures, they said.

Cummins is providing two new engines with redesigned crankshafts to the transit district as floater engines, so that no cars are out of service for a longer period than the actual engine replacement time, transit district officials said.

SMART general manager Farhad Mansourian said the train engines will be rebuilt and replaced one at a time, beginning next month through April, until all the cars have modified engines.

Cummins is paying for the engine work as the engines still are under warranty.

Transit district officials were unable to provide a specific price for each rebuilt engine, but said the entire 14-car train package cost $50 million. The cost of the engines was not immediately available.

“Cummins continues to work with SMART to evaluate work schedules that offer minimal disruption to their planned schedule,” Mills said.

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Julie McClure is assistant managing editor of The Republic. She can be reached at jmcclure@therepublic.com or (812) 379-5631.