November 29, 2002
Isuzu to develop natural gas engine with Canadian company
Vancouver, B.C. – Westport Innovations Inc. announced today that
it has agreed with Isuzu Motors of Tokyo, Japan, to develop a prototype Isuzu
ELF truck powered with a Westport Cycle natural gas engine.
The project has been initiated by Isuzu, which will also fully fund it.
Leading the effort is Isuzu’s Powertrain Engineering Division and Natural Gas
Group. The development will take place at Isuzu’s engine manufacturing plant
in Fujisawa, Japan. Westport will support Isuzu’s vehicle team in producing,
testing and calibrating the prototype vehicle. Westport will retain all
ownership of its Westport Cycle intellectual property, which uses high-
pressure direct injection to bring natural gas into the engine cylinder.
The Isuzu ELF truck will use a diesel engine in the 4-litre range that
runs solely on natural gas using Westport’s hot surface ignition technology.
The natural gas version of the engine is expected to achieve the same
performance and fuel efficiency as its diesel counterpart but with lower
emissions and fuel costs. The ELF is Japan’s No. 1 selling light-duty
commercial truck with 32% of the market. Isuzu also proudly offers a natural
ELF using spark-ignited engine technology, with an approximate 70% market
share in Japan.
“Demonstrating this technology in one of our most advanced diesel-based
commercial trucks represents a significant milestone in our relationship with
Westport,” said Takashi Urata, Isuzu’s Executive Officer, Powertrain Office.
“We are sponsoring this initiative because we are optimistic about prospects
for the Westport Cycle in Isuzu diesel engines.”
In June 2003, after internal testing and evaluation by Isuzu, the
prototype vehicle will be demonstrated to the Japanese government, including
the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) and New Energy and
Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO). It will also be
demonstrated to the Japan Gas Association (JGA)
The natural gas-powered direct injection engine will be based on an
advanced diesel engine fitted with cooled exhaust gas recirculation and common
rail fuel injection. The diesel-fueled version is currently in commercial
production. The light- to medium-range ELF truck, which will have a payload
capacity of 2-3 tonnes, is used for city deliveries, food services, light
contracting and many other applications.
Westport currently has an agreement with Isuzu to test its proprietary
Westport Cycle technology in an engine intended for light and medium duty
trucks. Westport and Isuzu have commenced discussions to extend the current
agreement, which expires in March 2003.
Isuzu is one of Japan’s largest truck manufacturers and is the primary
supplier of diesel engines to General Motors. In October 2002, General Motors
acquired a majority stake in Isuzu’s diesel-engine units in Europe and the
Westport’s strategy is to develop natural gas technology for diesel
engines through key strategic alliances. In addition to Isuzu, Westport has
strategic alliances with Ford Motor Company of Dearborn, Michigan; and MAN
Nutzfahrzeuge AG and BMW AG, both of Munich, Germany. Westport has a joint
venture with Cummins Inc. of Columbus, Indiana.