Cummins and Eaton are expanding their joint “Smart Advantage” powertrain by adding Cummins’ ISX12 diesel engine to the mix and boosting the existing ISX15 Smart Advantage combination to include 110,000-pound gross vehicle weight (GVW) applications.

For natural gas engines, Eaton is joining forces with Cummins Westport – a joint-venture between Cummins and Canada’s Westport Innovations – to offer an integrated powertrain package combining the Cummins Westport ISX12 G engine and Eaton’s UltraShift PLUS automated manual transmission (AMT).

“We’ve really only touch the tip of the iceberg with this,” noted Lori Thompson, VP-truck and bus OEM business at Cummins, who characterized those new joint powertrain offerings as “Collaboration 2.0” during a press conference here at the 2014 Technology & Maintenance Council annual meeting.

John Beering, senior VP and GM of the commercial vehicle transmission business at Eaton, said that Canadian fleets is particular pushed for the higher 110,000 lbs. GVW for the Smart Advantage package combining the ISX 15 and Eaton’s Fuller Advantage AMT – a combination he said is delivering 3% to 6% better fuel economy for users – and should be available later this year.

The new “Smart Advantage” package linking the ISX 12 and a 10-speed Eaton Fuller AMT is being aimed at the regional haul market, is expected to deliver fuel gains ranging from 2% to 4%, and will be available in the fall of 2014.

Beering told Fleet Owner that what makes Eaton’s collaboration with Cummins “so exciting” when it comes to such integrated powertrains is that it unlocks “the art of the possible” in terms of improving truck performance.

“We’re watching our technical tams come up with new ideas and insights that manifest themselves into fuel savings and other operational benefits,” he explained.

“We also now have 80 customers across the U.S. using these integrated powertrains – large and small fleets alike across a range of applications – and in some cases they are exceeding the fuel economy gains we projected in real-world operations,” Beering pointed out. “So we’re seeing that ‘window’ of fuel economy savings hold true and that’s generating a lot of positive word-of-mouth; that matters a lot in this industry.”

Other features of the new ISX12/Fuller AMT combination include:

  • A new small-ratio-step overdrive with two new Cummins ISX12 “SmartTorque2” ratings: the ISX12 370ST2, cranking out 370 hp and 1,150 lb.-ft. to 1,450 lb.-ft. worth of torque, plus the ISX12 425ST2, generating 425 hp and 1,350 lb.-ft. to 1,650 lb.-ft. of torque;
  • Optimized engine and transmission communications and new control logic, enabling further engine “down-speeding” in the overdrive position;
  • Lower overall package weight of 82 lbs. via eliminating the transmission cooler in combination with the use of aluminum for the rear transmission housing, range cylinder, shift bar housing and the shift tower, plus a thin-wall cast-iron main case design;
  • A precision lubrication system for precise and efficient transmission lubrication further enhances fuel economy by reducing churning losses. The amount of transmission oil is also reduced from 24 to 17 gallons;
  • Vehicle Acceleration Management (VAM), a patented Cummins electronic feature, to manage vehicle acceleration for smoother shifting while generating fuel economy benefits in stop-and-go duty cycles found in regional haul applications.

On the natural gas side, Eaton is combining both a 10-speed and 13-speed UltraShift PLUS AMT with the spark-ignited Cummins Westport ISX12 G engine fired by either compressed natural gas (CNG) or liquefied natural gas (LNG) ; a package that should be available by mid-2014 in limited application release for linehaul and regional haul operations, said Beering.

The ISX12 G will be offered in this integrated powertrain package with ratings of 320 to 400 hp and up to 1,450 lb.-ft. of peak torque. Benefits touted for the integration of the UltraShift PLUS with the ISX 12 G include:

  • More “intelligent” shift selection software for performance and efficiency improvements;
  • Better launch and shift decisions through grade sensing, weight computation and driver throttle commands;
  • Hill Start Aid, which prevents rollbacks when engaged, reduces risk and simplifies operations for even the most inexperienced drivers;
  • Tailored shift logic enables efficient operation and enhances braking performance.

“Basically, we anticipate fleets will see the same benefits of using an UltraShift in combination with a natural gas engine as they would with a diesel engine,” Beering noted.