The History of the Cummins Turbo Diesel Engine


The History of the Cummins Turbo Diesel Engine

Early Cummins Diesel engine

It's highly unlikely that if you are an enthusiast of the RAM lineup or truck engineering that you haven't at the very least heart the name Cummins Turbo Diesel. These innovative and highly-optimized engines have long been a highlight in an industry that strives for quality engineering that offer drivers truly impressive capabilities.

The story behind the Cummins Turbo Diesel is one that follows, in parallel, the story of the automotive industry itself. Founded in 1919, the Cummins Engine Company has grown to occupy a position in the engine market that earned it a revenue of over $US1.65 billion on a sales figure that exceeded $US19.2 billion in 2014 alone - no small feat for a history that stretches back nearly a century.

Clessie Cummins, to whom the company owes both its name and success, was a mechanic from Indiana that focused on refining and optimizing the engine invented by Rudolf Diesel at the turn of the century and would eventually release the first commercial model in 1933. Originally used on railroad switchers, the events of the Second World War and the road building boom that followed it helped the Cummins name spread and its position of authority to gain the recognition that continues well into modern times.

In the '50s, the Cummins engines had taken up such an aggressive position in the market that more than half the heavy duty trucks on the road at the time were using various models of the Cummins engine.

Early Cummins Diesel engine

Focusing their sights on the mid-range, heavy-duty, and high-horsepower engine segments allowed Cummins to, effectively, monopolize their space and act as both the major player and the major innovator. The first real consumer model of the Cummins is often regarded (albeit incorrectly as there have been numerous models available throughout the manufacturing history) as the 5.9-litre in-line six-cylinder engine that made its way onto the Dodge Ram light duty pickup truck series in 1989. This was punctuated, some years later, by an additional 6.7-litre straight-six engine and a 6.2-litre Supercharged Hemi V8 in 2015 - among a huge number of other engines created for specific markets outside the RAM lineup.

Prior to being introduced to the RAM lineup, Dodge was experiencing its fair share of pressure from the industry - with Ford and General Motors already enjoying the sales and point advantage on their own diesel-equipped fleet. Dodge, however, was on to something with the Cummins and wanted to be sure that it was everything they could have hope for - and with over 5 years of testing that spanned an impressive 11 million miles, it came time to announce and launch the Cummins Turbo Diesel properly.

Prior to the introduction on the Dodge Ram, Cummins had its reputation as being the engine developer of the time with models that found their way into just about everything thanks to a rather universal development process and a 12-valve Cummins turbodiesel option that continues to be a talking point for fans and aficionados alike. Moving from one market to another took time, however, still, the logic was sound - take the turbodiesel and make it fit into the truck body.

Early Cummins Diesel engine

Known as the D001 - the first Dodge RAM with the Cummins name associated was launched in the mid-eighties - and at 5.9-litre in size with 215 horsepower and 330 lb-ft of torque, this was the dawn of a new era.

Notwithstanding the various technological hurdles that had to be jumped to get to the present, Cummins decided on six-cylinder as opposed to a V8 engine that was more commonplace on the competitor vehicles - this was a huge advantage with 40 percent fewer parts and a simpler manufacturing process that supported an impressive power and potential made the Cummins an instant hit with every discerning professional - from driver to mechanic.

Further Reading:

Categories: Uncategorised