Cummins Talks Tesla, Electric Trucks, The Need For A Carbon Tax

Sign up for daily news updates from CleanTechnica on email. Or follow us on Google News!

Originally published on EVANNEX.

The Tesla Semi has captivated scores of corporate customers. Pre-orders for Elon Musk’s electric trucks are growing. Competitors, however, aren’t so impressed. The Wall Street Journal spoke with a potential adversary in the trucking space, Cummins, for their take on Tesla, electric trucks, and their thoughts on how governments around the world should deal with carbon emissions.

Tesla Semi A look at the Tesla Semi (Image via Kyle Field, CleanTechnica)

Wall Street Journal‘s Greg Ip writes, “What will make a bigger difference to global warming: sleek electric sedans like those made by Tesla Inc., or heavy-duty trucks, powered by the sort of [combustion] engines that Cummins Inc. is testing at its research center here just south of Indianapolis?”

Ip argues it’s the latter. “Most of the world thinks like a Cummins customer, not a Tesla customer. A Tesla buyer isn’t trying to save money: It is ‘an emotional buy,’ says Wayne Eckerle, Cummins’s head of research. Cummins customers are commercial truck operators: ‘They don’t buy on emotion. At all.'”

Unlike Tesla’s commitment to an all-electric approach, “Cummins is spreading its bets, developing a mix of electric, hybrid and natural-gas powered motors for small and medium-size trucks. But long-haul heavy trucks will, for the foreseeable future, run on diesel.” According to Ip, Cummins is concerned about electric trucks “costing a fortune” with batteries that “reduce payloads” while the act of recharging them would invariably “lengthen trips.” [Editor’s note: There were very similar concerns in the industries Tesla has already disrupted, until  Tesla came along. Also, interestingly, there’s no talk here of the fuel efficiency benefits of autonomous driving and platooning.]

Regardless, the stakes are high for the trucking industry as a whole. “Though less numerous than passenger vehicles, trucks collectively emit almost as much carbon dioxide because they travel further and weigh more. According to the International Energy Agency, road freight accounts for 35% of transport-related greenhouse gas emissions and 7% of total emissions,” notes Ip.

Cummins, however, is perplexed over policies surrounding the uptake of electric vehicles. Eckerle says talk in Europe of a 50% reduction in carbon emissions would mean “legislating the internal combustion engine out [of existence] as we know it today. The U.S. is doing nothing like that.”

Instead of encouraging incentives for electric vehicles, Ip reports that “Cummins would prefer a carbon tax: By forcing customers to internalize the cost of climate change, it would naturally incentivize them to pay up for lower-emission technology, no matter the fuel type.”

Cummins’ Julie Furber discusses the company’s outlook for electrification and diesel moving forward (YouTube: Diesel Progress)

“If we want rules that are more effective, decide the end result we want and let technology compete for the best solution,” says Cummins’ Chief Executive Tom Linebarger. “Carbon taxes are much better than all the other choices.”

Have a tip for CleanTechnica? Want to advertise? Want to suggest a guest for our CleanTech Talk podcast? Contact us here.

Latest CleanTechnica TV Video

I don't like paywalls. You don't like paywalls. Who likes paywalls? Here at CleanTechnica, we implemented a limited paywall for a while, but it always felt wrong — and it was always tough to decide what we should put behind there. In theory, your most exclusive and best content goes behind a paywall. But then fewer people read it!! So, we've decided to completely nix paywalls here at CleanTechnica. But...
Like other media companies, we need reader support! If you support us, please chip in a bit monthly to help our team write, edit, and publish 15 cleantech stories a day!
Thank you!

CleanTechnica uses affiliate links. See our policy here.

Matt Pressman

Matt is all about Tesla. He’s a TSLA investor, and he loves driving the family's Model 3, Model S, and Model X company cars. As co-founder of EVANNEX, a family business specializing in aftermarket Tesla accessories, he’s served as a contributor/editor of Electric Vehicle University (EVU) and the Owning Model S and Getting Ready for Model 3 books. He writes daily about Tesla and you can follow his work on the EVANNEX blog.

Matt Pressman has 332 posts and counting. See all posts by Matt Pressman