Hyliion Unveils Fuel-Agnostic Hypertruck
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Don’t Count Out the Internal Combustion Truck Engine

Sep 22, 2022
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BY JACK ROBERTS

Over the past few years, truck and engine makers have generated a lot of buzz around developing zero-emission drivetrains to help meet climate and sustainability goals. Traditional OEMs and tech start-ups, at home and abroad, now offer battery-electric powertrains to provide commercial fleets with viable alternatives to diesel- and gasoline-powered trucks, and many have hydrogen-fuel-cell-electric powertrains in the works as well.

The tried-and-true internal combustion engine has been largely absent from the conversation. Some truck makers announced they were shifting their research and development investments away from ICEs to focus on ZEVs. If ICEs were mentioned at all, it was usually to point out diesel and gasoline engines would remain important in trucking for many years during a gradual transition to zero emissions.

This year, however, brought a renewed focus on internal combustion designs that run on lower carbon alternative fuels. Fleets worried about the viability of battery or fuel cell technology will have more clean-burning options to power their trucks in the near future.

A Fuel-Agnostic Future

Let’s go back a decade to when natural gas engines were the darling of “green” trucking. Cummins and Westport Fuel Systems in 2001 created a joint venture to research, develop and manufacture natural gas engines for trucking applications. The two companies shared research and development on the engines. But the basic business arrangement was for Westport to supply the upper engine fuel management technology, the “head” of the engine, while Cummins supplied the lower “block” portion of the engine.

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