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Big Comeback for Big-Bore Engines

Over the past four to five years, a lot has been written about the shift away from big-bore 15-liter engines to medium-bore (11-liter to 13-liter) engines. New data shows that many of the industry‘s trendsetters have been making the switch back to big-bore engines because they save money and deliver greater driver satisfaction – a big key to recruiting and retaining the best drivers. There is truth in the saying “There’s no replacement for displacement.”

Your customers have come to understand the benefits of new technology in big-bore engines, and have been making the switch because it saves them money. The comeback has been dramatic. According to Polk registration data, the gap is rapidly shrinking for medium-bore engines as more of the industry transitions to big-bore engines that are more efficient in total cost of operation.

In 2010, medium-bore engine registrations surpassed big-bore registrations for the first time, with the gap growing to 23,000 additional medium-bore units in 2011 (14 percent more than big-bore). But this margin started shifting back toward big-bore engines in 2013, and in 2015, was at less than 5,000 units’ difference, which means there is now less than a 2 percent gap between medium and big-bore engine orders. The medium-bore/big-bore ratio was 55 percent to 45 percent in favor of medium-bore just three years ago, and today it is virtually even, at 51 percent to 49 percent.

Because the X15 is inherently more capable than any medium-bore engine, it can climb hills at a lower rpm with less stress on the engine. Larger-displacement engines are capable of producing more torque at a lower rpm, which means more power using less fuel. It‘s also true that the lower rpm your customer runs on a consistent basis, the longer the engine will last. Plus, the faster average road speeds with a big-bore engine lead to greater driver satisfaction, as does the integrated engine brake on Cummins X15 – the most powerful in the industry. With the current driver shortage, that‘s a huge selling point.

While there are certain routes and loads where the medium-bore engine makes sense, new technology such as the SmartAdvantage™ Powertrain, enhanced downspeeding capabilities and Cummins ADEPT™ suite of electronic features have added significantly to the 15-liter advantage. Plus, the new automated transmissions are being very well-received by drivers, because they reduce fatigue while maximizing operation of the vehicle.

Of course, the big-bore engine that more truckers are choosing over any other is Cummins, with broad availability now at all truck manufacturers. On average, there are 1,700 more ISX15 engines sold per month than the nearest competitor.

Right now, you might see a lot of trucks on the sales lot equipped with medium-bore engines. There‘s a reason they are still sitting there. Customers aren‘t willing to compromise on fuel economy, uptime, performance or engine life, and with Cummins 15-liter product, they don‘t have to. Heavy-haul customers, expediters and customers running full loads over the mountains should consider a 2016 ISX15 rated from 485 hp to 600 hp or a 2017 X15 Performance Series engine. Customers with routes across flat terrain, and those looking to lower their operating costs with the best fuel economy in the industry, should spec a 2016 ISX15 rated from 400 hp to 475 hp or a 2017 X15 Efficiency Series engine.

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