A Look At Cummins Diesel Engine’s History

For almost 100 years the name Cummins has been synonymous with power and dependability in the world of engines. Most RAM truck lovers today are aware of the Cummins name and what the Cummins Turbo Diesel engine can do under the hood.

How Cummins rose to glory and became one of the best-known engines in the industry is an interesting one that’s worth hearing about. So, here is a look at the history of the Cummins Diesel engine.

An Early Start

From a very early age, Clessie Lyle Cummins took to engines in rural Indiana, where at the age of 11 he constructed his very first steam-powered engine. It would not be long before Cummins began working as a mechanic after leaving home as a young man to make his mark on the world.

By the time he was 23, Cummins had formed a reputation as a mechanic in his own shop and was asked to join the pit crew of race car driver Ray Harroun in 1911. The suggestions he made to improve the vehicle performance of Harroun’s car would lead to victory lane in the very first Indianapolis 500.

That would vault Cummin’s career forward so that he could found the Cummins Engine Company out of Columbus Indiana in 1919. With the help of banker William G. Irwin, the company became one of the first to utilize the work of German engineer Rudolf Diesel to enhance their own engine designs.

After 10 years of designing, building and testing, Cummins was able to mount a diesel engine into a used Packard limousine to create America’s first diesel engine automobile. As word got out, Cummins became a premier supplier of engines to the trucking industry.

Building the Cummins Foundation

A milestone year for the Cummins brand was 1933. In that year, they released the Model H, which was a heavy-duty engine used for transportation and would soon become the basis for their most successful engines.

The company grew very quickly over the next few years as Cummins was always striving for better performance from his engines. J. Irwin Miller, great-nephew of original investor William Irwin, would soon join the company with his vision set on new heights.

In 1935 Irwin Miller became the general manager of Cummins Engine Company and over the next 3 years, they finally earned their first profit. Soon after came the very first 100,000-mile warranty. From there, the company became internationally known.

cummins diesel motor

With progress being made through America’s interstate highway construction program in the 1950’s, Cummins took giant leaps forward with their business. Their engines powered many of the large equipment used to build those roadways. In fact, more than half of the heavy-duty trucks on the road at that time were being operated with various Cummins engine models.

Through Cummins knowledge and ingenuity, he was able to produce a pressure-timed fuel injector system that would provide the trucking industry with the reliability, durability, and power that was sought. This was another opportunity to grow the company to $100 Million in sales revenue and become the leader in the diesel engine market.

Giving Back and Moving Forward

Miller would lead the company to great success, which allowed them to give back to the community. The Cummins Foundation was established in 1954 to pay for all architect fees to build and expand the small Indiana community through new construction.

A couple of years later, expansion took the company to Shotts, Scotland with a new manufacturing facility. Creating even more jobs overseas, it didn’t take long for them to establish roots in 98 countries around the world.

This global expansion was the foundation for the growth of the company for years to come. In China alone, Cummins is to this day, the largest foreign investor in the diesel engine market, employing almost 10,000 people to the tune of $3 Billion in sales.

As a leader in innovation, Cummins established what is regarded as the first true mass consumer model engine in 1989. The Dodge Ram light-duty pickup truck series would pave the way in the sector with its 5.9-litre inline six-cylinder engine. Known as the D001, it boasted 215 horsepower and 330 pound-feet of torque to begin a long-lasting and popular marriage between the Dodge RAM truck and the Cummins Diesel engine.

The decision to go with a six-cylinder rather than a V8 that was common in competitor vehicles at the time gave Cummins an advantage in the market. They were able to use 40 percent fewer parts to create a simpler process of manufacturing to build an engine that featured the power and versatility the market would come to love.

Of course, they did not stop there, as they added a 6.7-litre straight-six engine to the line a few years later. In 2015, the ingenuity kept rolling with a 6.2-litre Supercharged Hemi V8 engine along with several other powerful engines specifically designed for other markets outside of the RAM family of trucks.

They were the only company in the sector to meet 2010 EPA standards for Nox emissions, as they released their new 6.7-litre turbo diesel engine in 2007. The Dodge Ram Heavy Duty Pickup would shine with this innovative new engine powering it forward.

Globally, Cummins maintains its status as a Fortune 500 company with approximately 55,000 employees. In a now diversified business, they serve the components, power generation, and distribution markets as leaders in each field with over $17 Billion in total sales annually.

The Cummins Diesel engine is a story of true genius, collaboration, and making the most of opportunities. It was and continues to be, a successful brand that leads the way in the world of diesel engine powered pickup trucks.

Even though it has a long and successful history behind them, it seems that the future is also a long road ahead for the Cummins Engine Company. There is no telling when the next generation of advances will fuel the Cummins diesel engine with another leap forward.