Cummins’ New Little Brother: X12

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Are smaller displacements the engine trend of the future? Cummins seems to be hedging its bets on that question. The Columbus, Ind.-based global engine manufacturer now has very capable product at both ends of the spectrum: the 14.9-liter X15, and this new engine the 11.8-liter X12.

Recent engine introductions from other engine makers suggest there’s an appetite for smaller block engines that can deliver Class 8 power for regional and urban applications as well as the vocational market. With ratings up to 475 horsepower and 1,700 lb-ft of torque, the X12 will be running with the big boys. The X12 is also nearly 1,000 lb lighter than the X15, so weight sensitive fleets will be looking very closely at this engine.

The X12 is derived from the ISG platform first introduced in 2013 as global engine platform. It made its first appearance a year later in a joint venture with the world’s largest independent engine maker, Beiqi Foton Motor Co. Ltd. of China. Foton now uses the ISG diesel in a new truck series developed with Daimler of Germany. Cummins says the engine in ISG trim already has more than 1 billion miles under its belt, and is ready to take on North American truck fleets. The X12 will be ready for market here in 2018.

We got a close look at it and brief test drive in July when Cummins launched it 2017 X15 lineup. From what we saw, it looks like Cummins will have a full slate of orders for the X12 in no time at all.

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Jim Park was a CDL driver and owner-operator from 1978 until 1998, when he began his second career as a trucking journalist. During that career transition, he hosted an overnight radio show on a Hamilton, Ontario radio station and later went on to anchor the trucking news in SiriusXM's Road Dog Trucking channel. Jim is a regular contributor to Today's Trucking and, and produces Focus On and On the Spot test drive videos.

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