New Cummins ISG12 shows promise during local testing

By: Matt Wood

Lightweight 12-litre engine undergoes Australian field testing in four prime movers

New Cummins ISG12 shows promise during local testing
The Cummins ISG12.


Australian field tests of the Cummins ISG12 are well under way as the engine manufacturer works towards local release for the lightweight 12-litre engine.

Four test vehicles from varied manufacturers are currently equipped with the engine and are engaged in a variety of roles.

The first ISG12 powered prime mover hit the road in March 2015 hauling a B-double.

Four engines have already covered more than 350,000 km combined to date.

"We’re testing at 500hp at the moment," Sean McLean, general manager of automotive products for Cummins South Pacific, says.

"So far they’ve been performing well, the customers are giving us some good feedback.

"Were also working with our customers on driver feedback as well.

The engines are being continuously monitored during the field tests.

"We’re data logging those engines both here and at our tech centre in Columbus as part of our global test program," McLean says.

All of the test trucks are customer owned and are running a variety of transmission and final drive ratios. 

The 500hp/1,700lb/ft (373kW/2,305Nm) Cummins represents a clean sheet design that differs markedly from the rest of the company’s engine family in both design and structure.

The little red powerplant features a sculpted block to reduce weight and utilises Cummins’s XPI high pressure common rail fuel injection system.

A modular approach to the design has seen the integration of gear pump and high pressure fuel pumps as well as an integrated oil cooler and water pump.

The engine gear train is located at the rear of the engine which will no doubt make it and attractive option for cab over installations.

As a result there’s been a significant reduction of clutter around the engine block. It’s a very clean looking engine design.

Other weight saving measures have made by using composite materials for the sump, valve cover and thermostat housing.

The composite sump is also said to help with cooling.

With a dry weight of just 860kg the single overhead camshaft Cummins could be an attractive option in an Aussie market that is labouring under restrictive steer axle weight regulations.

The Euro 5 SCR engine also features a new single module after-treatment ‘pong box which will also free up a bit of chassis real estate.

With a bit of crystal ball gazing it’s not hard to see the diminutive Cummins being an attractive option for cab over manufacturers as well as it clearly has some room to move in terms of packaging.

And it’s a good couple of hundred kilos lighter than some of its lightweight competition.

The ISG12 was developed for the Chinese truck market, yet will be rolled out as a global engine platform.

"The engine is already available on the Chinese market at NS4 [Chinese emission level], but this Euro 5 version on field test is what we’re interested in," McLean says.

The engine is manufactured in China as part of the company’s joint venture with Foton.

The NS4 emissions version of the ISG can be found under the cab of the Foton Daimler Auman, a locally manufactured heavy duty truck for the massive Chinese truck market.

The Cummins-Foton plant also manufactures the 2.8- and 3.8-litre ISF engines, the smaller of which can be found under the bonnet of the Foton Tunland ute.

Australia is used as a proving ground by Cummins as part of its global testing program.

The Aussie trucking environment lends itself well to pushing truck engines to the limit.

"High weights, high load factor and high mileage accumulation, that’s what we’re about," says McLean.

The ISG12 is an interesting example of the continuing trend of engine downsizing globally

− 500hp from just 12 litres is no mean feat.

However McLean is keen to point out that the 15-litre ISX isn’t going anywhere.

"We think we’ve got a great B-double engine today, it does a great job and it’s the market leading engine so clearly a lot of our customers think the same thing," he says.

The fact that the ISG is being tested at high gross weight and in a B-double role doesn’t actually mean that this is where the engine will be targeted, according to McLean.

"We’re trying to get the high GCM and high load factor that we’re looking for as part of our testing program globally."

"Just because we’re testing in those applications doesn’t mean that’s where we’re going to be aiming the engine at."

"We see a space for the ISG in our lineup, we have the ISM today," McLean says.

"It’s an 11-litre but ultimately, it won’t continue past this level of emissions regulations."

"So at some point it will need to be replaced, the ISG will be the engine that replaces it."


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