So who is DP’s Newsmaker of the Year for 2022?

By Mike Brezonick20 December 2022

Display at the entry of Cummins headquarters in Columbus, Ind. (Photo: Mike Brezonick)

The media business tends to be a “look what just happened!” type of industry. Thanks to recency bias, we tend to focus on the now, often overlooking important happenings that occurred in the past, even if that past was not that long ago.

Yet at the same time, sometimes events that took place months ago continue to echo and reverberate through our consciousness and maintain their significance.

Such was the case this year with Cummins and why the Columbus, Ind.-headquartered engine and power systems specialist has been selected the 2022 Diesel Progress Newsmaker of the Year.

To review, the Newsmaker of the Year is the person, company, product, technology, trend or issue that generated the most news and discussion over the calendar year. Past newsmakers have been as varied as the power generation markets in 1999 (leading up to the dreaded “Y2K”), Selective Catalytic Reduction in 2008, the VW emissions scandal in 2015 and COVID-19 in 2020 and 2021, when it shared the honor with the post-COVID industry comeback.

Cummins earned its fifth newsmaker honor (see related list for past winners) and its first since 2018 for the series of significant corporate and product moves it made, mostly in the first half of 2022. They included:

  • Its $325 million acquisition of Jacobs Vehicle Systems. Announced in early February and completed in mid-April, the purchase gave Cummins a range of advanced engine braking, cylinder deactivation and valve control technologies.
  • In mid-February, Cummins unveiled what it called “the industry’s first unified, fuel-agnostic engines,” a new engine series based on its 6.7, 9 and 15 L diesel platforms, optimized to use low- and zero-carbon fuels such as HVO and renewable diesel, natural gas and hydrogen. In the months that followed, the company announced hydrogen engine deals with major trucking fleets (Werner and Transport Enterprise Leasing) and a tractor manufacturer (Buhler Versatile).
    Cummins finalized the acquisition of Meritor in early August 2022.
  • In late February, Cummins announced the largest purchase in the company’s 103-year history when it agreed to acquire global powertrain supplier Meritor. The $3.7 billion deal, which closed in early August, positioned Cummins as one of the few companies able to provide complete, integrated vehicle powertrains utilizing combustion engines, battery-electric and hydrogen fuel cell systems.
  • Then in mid-July, Cummins named Jennifer Rumsey as president and CEO of the company, succeeding Chairman Tom Linebarger as of Aug. 1. The seventh CEO in Cummins history, Rumsey is a native of Columbus, Ind., and is the first woman to lead the company since it was founded in 1919. An engineer and former chief technical officer, Linebarger called her “a once in a generation talent and the right leader for Cummins at this important time in our history.”
Jennifer Rumsey, Cummins Jennifer Rumsey, Cummins president and chief operating officer

Those were the highlights, they were by no means everything Cummins accomplished in 2022. The year also included a buyout of Westport Fuel Systems’ stake in the Cummins Westport gaseous-fuel engine joint venture; an acquisition of 50% of Momentum Fuel Technologies from Rush Enterprises, bringing extensive gaseous fuel system storage and packaging capabilities; the unveiling of a new X10 diesel for Euro 7 trucks; its plan to build hydrogen electrolyzers at its Fridley, Minn., facilities; and its acquisition of a minority stake in power generation asset management company Exergy Energy.

Whew. If you want an example of how to build a company to cover all the technological bases in the market, Cummins showed how it’s done in 2022.

Yet while it was a very big part of the news cycle, Cummins wasn’t the only thing people were talking about in 2022.

Kohler made its share of news, as shortly after unveiling its new KSD diesel in late 2021, it made two significant acquisitions in January of 2022, the first being Heila Technologies, a specialist in distributed energy technologies and a week later, Curtis Instruments, a supplier of electronic components for mobile equipment and electric powertrain applications.

Later in the year, Kohler also mourned the passing of iconic Executive Chairman Herb Kohler at 83 and saw his son, David Kohler, assume the chair position.

Caterpillar, a three-time Newsmaker of the Year, also had a noteworthy 12 months that included the unveiling of a new line of batteries for off-highway equipment, new milestones for its autonomous mine haul trucks (more than 5.5 billion tons hauled since 2013 and 1.5 billion tons hauled this year) and, in a shocking move for longtime observers, moving its headquarters from Illinois to Texas.

Finally, it’s perhaps fitting that the most abundant element in the universe, hydrogen, also generated its share of discussion in 2022. Nearly every significant engine manufacturer – Caterpillar, Deutz, Rolls-Royce Power Systems, JCB, Liebherr, Volvo Penta and (of course) Cummins demonstrated new hydrogen engine platforms that may well carry the concept of internal combustion forward for decades.

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