Caterpillar and Westport Innovations have agreed to co-develop natural gas technology for off-road equipment, including mining trucks and locomotives. The pact calls for the companies to combine technologies and expertise, including Westport High Pressure Direct Injection (HPDI) technology and Caterpillar’s off-road engine and machine product technology, to develop the natural gas fuel system.
Caterpillar will fund the development program. When the products go to market, Westport expects to participate in the supply of key components.
“This is a significant opportunity that has the potential to transform important segments of the global off-road equipment industries,” said David Demers, CEO of Westport Innovations. “We are working with the global leader in engines, locomotives and off-road equipment to develop an attractive natural gas offering for their customers.”
Although the agreements initially focus on engines used in mining trucks and locomotives, the companies will also develop natural gas technology for Caterpillar’s off-road engines.
“This agreement does more than pair two leaders in their respective industries,” said Steve Fisher, vice president of Caterpillar’s Large Power Systems Division. “Many of our customers are asking for natural-gas powered equipment in order to reap the financial and environmental benefits. The program positions Caterpillar to become the first manufacturer to bring HPDI technology to the high horsepower off-road market, offer the broadest product line of natural gas-fueled machines and equipment, and capitalize on the attractiveness of natural gas as an alternate mobile fuel – all within the shortest time frame for our customers.”
Development programs will start immediately for both new and existing engines, combustion technology and fuel systems. Commercial production is expected to begin in about five years.