Cummins Engine Facts

Truck image by JASON WINTER from

Founded in 1919 by Clessie Cummins, the Cummins Engine Company is one of the largest engine manufacturers in the world. In addition to highway truck engines, Cummins also produces marine engines, power generators and construction equipment.

The company has experienced economic problems throughout its existence, but continues to be a world leader in diesel engine production.


Cummins engine founder Clessie Cummins began his career as a chauffeur for industrialist Will G. Irwin. In 1919, Sears, Roebeck and Co. was looking for three diesel engines to be produced for farm use. Cummins produced the engines with the help of Irwin. Though Sears claimed the engines were defective, Cummins kept producing engines and eventually laid the foundations for the technology the Cummins company would use in the future.

Progession into 1960

Though faced with competition from Caterpillar and General Motors, Cummins distributors were considered well-versed and professional, owing to the fact that Cummins only dealt with one product line. In 1952, Cummins introduced the turbocharger, which would add 50 per cent more horsepower to its engines. As Cummins continued to produce engines for the on-highway market, in the late 1950s it also began to manufacture off-highway engines.

1960 and Beyond

The 1960s were a turbulent time for Cummins and the other major engine manufacturers. The truck market was flooded, and new competitors in the diesel market such as Perkins and GMC began to eat away at Cummins' market-share. After many changes in management and a turbulent 1970s, Cummins once again began introducing new diesel products to the engine market, and eventually became profitable once more.

Engine Products

Cummins Engine Company focuses primarily on the on-highway market. The N14, ISX and M11 are used in a variety of truck models in the United States. For the light duty market, Cummins has produced the B5.9 for use in Dodge pickup trucks, and the C8.3 used in transit buses. Cummins off-highway engines are used in many applications including marine products, construction equipment and power generators. In keeping up with laws concerning truck emissions, Cummins introduced the exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) system on all engines produced.

Cummins Subsidiaries

Outside of diesel and natural gas engine production, Cummins is also the parent company of Nelson Emissions and Fleetguard Filtration Products. The company is also the holder of Onan Power Generation, a producer of diesel and natural gas generators. Through its many subsidiary companies, Cummins is able to provide a multitude of services and parts for the on-highway, construction and marine markets.