At first glance, Dave O’Brien might not seem like a man on a mission. But get him talking about Cummins’ latest fuel economy triumph, and the corresponding decrease in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, and it’s easy to see why he describes himself as a “catalyst for fuel economy.”


“This isn’t about me,” Cummins Fuel Economy Leader explains, his eyes growing just a little bit bigger. “We’ve got incredibly talented people helping our customers all around the world to improve the fuel efficiency of our products in use. I’m just the guy who brings them together to share ideas that are good for our customers, good for the environment and good for the company, too.”

O’Brien, who records, tracks and celebrates fuel efficiency projects for the company’s products in-use team, is just one of many people at Cummins focused on improving fuel efficiency, and by extension, reducing CO2 emissions.

Boosting fuel economy results in an almost equal reduction in CO2, a key contributor to global warming and the primary greenhouse gas (GHG) emitted through human activities.

Cummins is working across almost every function to reduce CO2, capitalizing on the opportunity to do something that’s good for the environment while saving money for customers.

This effort is clearly reflected in the company’s products. Cummins, for example, received certification from the EPA for its complete lineup of on-highway diesel and natural gas engines more than a year ahead of the second step in GHG and fuel-efficiency standards, which take effect in January 2017.

When the company went on a 36-city North American barnstorming tour in 2015 (page XX) to meet with customers, Cummins’ fuel efficiency technology was prominently on display.

The Redefining Tour highlighted the work of several products designed to improve fuel economy, including the SmartAdvantage Powertrain, which uses a combination of down-speeding and optimized communication between the engine and transmission to boost fuel efficiency.

But the effort to reduce carbon dioxide goes well beyond the company’s products to the way Cummins works with customers, pursues innovation and streamlines its own operations.

“Going forward, Cummins will continue to be a catalyst for environmental action,” says Cummins Chairman and CEO Tom Linebarger. “Our vision and mission demand it, our business success depends on it, and the ingenuity and energy of our employees can make it happen.”


The overwhelming majority of the CO2 Cummins produces stems from its products in use by customers.

In 2015, the company for the first time calculated the collective lifetime CO2 emissions of its 2014 engines as part of its submission to the CDP, formerly known as the Carbon Disclosure Project.

Cummins estimated the collective emissions of the 1.1 million engines the company and its joint venture partners sold in 2014 would be 914 million metric tons of CO2 over their useful lives of 10, 20, or even 40 years.

“Our stakeholders understand we make a lot of engines, and they last a long time,” said Brian Mormino, Executive Director of Environmental Compliance. “But we have a responsibility to focus on reducing their lifetime emissions.”

Even before the CO2 estimate was calculated, Cummins set a goal of partnering with customers to reach an annual reduction of 3.5 million metric tons of CO2 or 350 million gallons of fuel annually by 2020.

The company estimates it has saved its customers 232 million gallons of fuel and 2.32 million metric tons of CO2 since the products in-use initiative started in 2014.

One of the most active fuel economy teams at the company is based in Pune, India, where Amol Wairagade and his colleagues are working from a list of 24 projects they hope to accomplish over the next few years such as developing stop-start technology (page XX) for their bus customers.

“We want our customers to be the market leaders on fuel economy,” Wairagade said. “We know how important fuel costs can be to their profitability.”     

O’Brien said Cummins has already worked with customers to recalibrate engines for optimal efficiency on a wide range of projects, from fleets of forklifts to snow-making machines at ski resorts.

“If we can help customers reduce one of their major cost centers and help the environment at the same time, to me that’s huge,” O’Brien said.


The effort to reduce CO2 starts long before a Cummins product ever reaches a customer, however.

Cummins engineers use powerful computer models capable of simulating the harsh environment inside an engine to design products that are fuel efficient and use a minimum amount of natural resources while still delivering the power and durability customers need to succeed.

The models give product designers an almost limitless number of options before ever using a drop of fuel in a test cell.

Cummins’ Kevin Brittain uses something called Numerical Optimization to help make these models even more effective for high horsepower engines. Numerical Optimization is based on mathematical calculations that help designers narrow the range of possibilities to those that have the best chance for success.

Final designs still must be tested before they are ready for a customer. But computer models and tools like Numerical Optimization make it much more likely that testing will be successful. 

“The focus of Design for Environment is to reduce our product’s environmental impact by making informed decisions in the design phase,” said Madeleine Fogler, who led Cummins’ Design for the Environment effort until changing positions in 2016. “Reducing material without compromising durability and reliability is one way to do that.”


Three years ago each of Cummins’ four business units in North America were running their own transportation systems, with different service providers.

“While a lot of our facilities were relatively close together and provided material to each other, we were working in isolation,” said Felix Santa, Global Logistics Leader at Cummins.

But now, thanks in large part to a new computer logistics service, three of the four systems are part of a coordinated initiative with the fourth coming on line soon. The business units share trucks where it makes sense to ensure tractor-trailers are full when making runs.

Santana can track with his laptop computer the nearly 500 trucks delivering material to company facilities in North America on a typical day. He says so far, Cummins has saved more than $2 million and 2,400 metric tons of CO2 thanks to the new system.

Cummins has set a goal for reducing the CO2 per kilogram of goods moved by 10 percent by 2020. Santana figures the company has seen about a 2.3 percent reduction so far.