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CUMMINS TAKES BOLD STEP WITH 5.0L

After covering the Mack news in Allentown, I was whisked away to Columbus, Ind. where Cummins had some major news: the upcoming release of a 5.0L diesel engine. The ISV5.0 will enter production in the fourth quarter of next year, but...


Cummins will produce its ISV5.0 engine at its Columbus Engine Plant, bringing more jobs to its hometown.
Cummins will produce its ISV5.0 engine at its Columbus Engine Plant, bringing more jobs to its hometown.

After covering the Mack news in Allentown, I was whisked away to Columbus, Ind. where Cummins had some major news: the upcoming release of a 5.0L diesel engine. The ISV5.0 will enter production in the fourth quarter of next year, but interestingly Cummins is bringing this engine to market without any firm commitments from customers. There’s a lengthy back-story here. Cummins began working on the 5L some 13 years ago, when it received Department of Energy funding to launch the engine in partnership with Chrysler. When Chrysler experienced its financial troubles during the recession, it dropped the program and Cummins was left to decide whether to do likewise, or forge ahead without a vehicle partner.

Cummins opted to continue on with the project – which ranks among its biggest ever – and launch the ISV5.0, even though no vehicle OEMs have yet promised to offer the engine. It should be noted, Nissan announced in August it will offer a five-litre Cummins turbo-diesel in its Titan at a yet-to-be-announced date.

So, they’re bringing to market an engine without a customer – has Cummins lost it? Not exactly. The company is feeling pretty confident a market for this engine will develop and that it will have some takers. And it makes sense. For one, most current diesel engine users in the segments the ISV5.0 is coveting – P&D, heavy pickup, school bus, RV, and dozens of others – are currently using the larger ISB, which is in many cases underutilizing its full capabilities in applications where a 5L will do. Or, they’re running gasoline engines, meaning there is some significant room for efficiency gains in switching to a diesel.

There are many potential applications that would be well-served by the ISV5.0, and there’s little doubt a market will take shape. One of the most promising is the pickup truck market. Cummins did its homework and found that 6% of pickup truck owners would consider a diesel engine, and that’s 6% of a pretty big number. Cummins already has a 22% share in the heavy-duty pickup segment, thanks to its arrangement with Ram. Vehicle makers will certainly step forward and sign up for this engine. It’s going to be very interesting to see which ones do so first.

So, how about the engine itself? It has some interesting design traits, which contribute to a quiet, efficient operation. Among them is Cummins’ first use of compacted graphite iron, which is a denser material than conventional iron, meaning less of it has to be used, resulting in thinner walls. This contributes to reduced weight and less noise. The use of aluminum components has added to further weight savings. I drove the engine in a couple different vehicles, including a walk-in van and a Freightliner sport truck. It was a small sample size, but the engine was quiet as promised and plenty peppy.


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1 Comment » for CUMMINS TAKES BOLD STEP WITH 5.0L
  1. Peter Warren says:

    They could have made a 4L too for a economy size engine for 1/2 ton and even 3/4 ton markets by now and where is Penske Detroit Diesel. So even if it makes it to the market place it will likely be made a status symbol option and a very questionable economical decision by the consumer. But on a brighter note it is a cool idea.

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