Cummins is set to play a key role in the integrated transport strategy for South Africa through its partnership with Real African Works (RAW), a newly-launched 100% black female owned Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) specialising in urban buses for Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) networks for the three major metropolitan municipalities in Gauteng.
Cummins, the world’s largest independent diesel engine manufacturer, which built over 1.3 million units in 2017, began working with the OEM in 2016 on the development of its RAW iBus V1D model. Its involvement began from engine selection, up until road testing.
“We are fully prepared to offer the aftermarket support that is required. We have invested in training technicians, defining maintenance standards, and procuring the correct tools and parts to ensure that, once these buses are on the road, they will run efficiently,” Gbile Adewunmi, Director EBU & Parts Marketing, Africa for Cummins, said at the RAW launch at Melrose Arch in Johannesburg on 21 November.
The technology to be used on these buses is Cummins ISL Euro 5 engine, which complies with the latest European regulations regarding greenhouse gas emissions and fuel efficiency. RAW CEO Dr. Vuyelwa Toni Penxa revealed that the diesel-engine bus will be followed by an electric and, ultimately, a hydrogen fuel cell prototype. Bombela has already placed an order for 135 buses, including five electric and five hydrogen fuel cell models for piloting and testing.
“If this delivers the results we expect it to, I foresee a future based on alternative propulsion methods, as opposed to conventional fuels such as diesel,” Gauteng MEC for Transport Ismail Vadi said at the stakeholder launch. He commended all the partners in the initiative, including ZF for the axles and Busmark for the bus-body building. Vadi added that the launch of RAW was an important initiative in terms of Gauteng’s Transformation, Modernisation, and Reindustrialisation (TMR) programme.
Describing the launch of RAW’s first locally-manufactured bus as a major milestone, Cummins AME Automotive and Electrification Leader Ms Rashi Gupta said it would support the OEM fully in its move towards electric and fuel-cell mobility.
“Cummins has always been a global leader in terms of diesel engines. We have been at the forefront of innovation in meeting the specific requirements of both our customers and governments, especially with regard to emissions standards. Hence, we developed our Euro 5 technology, with Euro 6 already launched in Europe and a few Asian countries.
“We truly believe that diesel alone is not the future of mobility, but that electric drive trains and hydrogen fuel cells will gain prominence,” Gupta stressed. Cummins has committed to investing $500m in research and development on electric technology alone, with a trial bus running in California at present, and an additional roll-out planned across the US next year.
“There is a lot of work we are doing in terms of the next phase of mobility. We believe our partnership with RAW will not only introduce this new technology to South Africa, but allow the country to take the lead on the continent. It is an initiative that we are very excited and passionate about,” Gupta concluded.