Diesel giant Cummins makes $3.7B bet on an electric truck future with players like the Tesla Semi

Credit: Tesla Inc.

It seems like one the most notable vanguards of diesel engines has begun preparations for an upcoming Tesla-like disruption in the trucking sector. In a recent press release, diesel engine giant Cummins announced that it was acquiring Meritor, a company that makes drivetrain, mobility, braking, aftermarket, and electric powertrain solutions for commercial vehicle and industrial markets. The deal is valued at approximately $3.7 billion. 

With the Meritor deal in place, Cummins would be able to add transmissions, brakes, and axles to its own line of electric motors. It would also allow the company to offer electric truck manufacturers the option to source their drivetrain from Cummins. This is familiar ground for the diesel engine giant. In the US, after all, customers have the option of acquiring a truck from a manufacturer like Freightliner while specifying a diesel engine from a company like Cummins. 

Cummins noted that its acquisition of Meritor would allow the company to accelerate the ramp of its New Power business, which involves the development of motors and axles for trucks that are powered by electric and hybrid powertrains. In the company’s press release, Cummins Chairman and CEO Tom Linebarger explained that Meritor’s acquisition places the diesel engine maker in a favorable position for the future. 

“The acquisition of Meritor is an important milestone for Cummins. Meritor is an industry leader, and the addition of their complementary strengths will help us address one of the most critical technology challenges of our age: developing economically viable zero-carbon solutions for commercial and industrial applications. Climate change is the existential crisis of our time, and this acquisition accelerates our ability to address it. Our customers need economically viable decarbonized solutions,” Linebarger said. 

Seeing Cummins invest $3.7 billion in the upcoming electric truck market bodes well for the upcoming segment, which is arguably still in its very early stages. Even EV leaders like Tesla are seeing challenges in entering the trucking market. The Tesla Semi, for example, has become one of the company’s most delayed products, with the Class 8 truck initially scheduled to start deliveries back in 2019. CEO Elon Musk has explained that the Semi’s delays are partly due to battery supply.  

Despite these delays, however, the trucking market may see a rapid adoption of electric vehicles. Fleet owners typically view truck purchases based on the total cost of ownership, which could be favorable to vehicles like the Tesla Semi and Cummins’ upcoming electric products. Once it becomes evident that electric trucks’ total cost of ownership is lower than that of diesel trucks, customers would likely switch over to electric solutions. And when it does, it would likely be companies like Tesla, and now perhaps Cummins, that would be ready to take advantage of the emerging electric trucking market. 

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Diesel giant Cummins makes $3.7B bet on an electric truck future with players like the Tesla Semi
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