INDIANAPOLIS -- There aren't many people who'd mention 98-year-old engine maker Cummins in the same breath as tech darling Tesla. But Cummins is trying to change that.
Cummins for decades has specialized in producing profitable, yet uninspiring — to the average consumer, at least — diesel engines for commercial vehicles. Tesla, meanwhile, has risen to prominence in just 14 years by making high-end electric cars that can drive themselves.
But Tesla CEO Elon Musk in April signaled that his company would be encroaching on Cummins' space by introducing an electric semi truck. Although Musk has not elaborated, rumors are swirling that Tesla this month will unveil an autonomouslong-haul truck that can travel for up to 300 miles on a full charge.
Tesla's vague announcement, as well as the speculation that followed, has put Cummins on defense. Cummins touts a portfolio of low-emission diesel and natural gas engines, but it had not taken any major steps toward electric. Cummins in recent weeks has been scrambling to show that it is on board with electric — and, indeed, the company now says it has jumped out in front of Tesla.