Cummins steals a march over Tesla with all-electric engine for large trucks

US engine maker Cummins said it has left Tesla behind in the race to develop an all-electric engine for large trucks.

Cummins Inc yesterday unveiled what the company claims is the first of its kind zero-emissions electric powered truck.

The 18,000-pound truck, built by Roush Industries, is designed for making local deliveries, such as moving products between warehouses and stores and has a maximum payload of 44,000 pounds. The engine takes one hour to charge.

With the development, Cummins also joins other makers, including big names like Ford and Volvo, that are experimenting or developing electric trucks or buses.

The demonstration held at the company's technology centre in Columbus, comes as the company is taking steps to diversify its powertrains. Cummins, best known as a maker of diesel engines, is expanding its natural gas products and moving toward electric engines.

The company announced in June that it would commence production of electric powertrains for buses by 2019.  According to company officials, the unveiling of AEOS yesterday, named after a four-winged horse that drove the chariot of the sun god in Greek mythology comes as a major step in Cummins' evolution.

"Initially, these products will service the transit bus market, but this is just the beginning," said Julie Furber, Cummins' executive director of electrification, Indianapolis Star reported. "We are going to take electrification to all our markets and the applications that we serve when the time is right. This truck enables us to demonstrate that electrified powertrains will be viable."

According to commentators, with the fully operational prototype having a range of only 100 miles AEOS is a city-oriented cargo solution. According to Cummins by 2020, improvements in battery tech are "expected to reduce" the charge time to 20 minutes.

Cummins has no plans to assemble the trucks, but instead aims to be a supplier of the battery and driveline.

Experts point out that the AEOS ekes out as much range as it can thanks to low-rolling resistance tires and regenerative braking.