Westport Innovations is extending an engine-development agreement with Isuzu Motors Ltd. of Tokyo through March of next year as the two companies look more closely at joining forces in the light- and medium-duty truck market.
The two companies agreed to accelerate the testing of Vancouver, British Columbia-based Westport's natural gas fuel system technology for a new Isuzu diesel engine for light-duty trucks back in February.
Westport has agreed to install its prototype natural gas fuel system in two of the engines for testing by Isuzu in Japan, with Isuzu agreeing to offset some of Westport's research and development expenses. The companies have worked together on this project since December 2000.
The joint goal is to build a series of Isuzu urban delivery trucks that operate on natural gas but retain all of the torque and fuel efficiency of the diesel-powered models. Isuzu is 49%-owned by General Motors, so gains in Isuzu's diesel technology research could benefit other General Motors truck products, Isuzu said. Westport itself is a joint venture that involves diesel engine maker Cummins of Columbus, IN.
"Westport's direct injection technology has the potential to create a low emissions alternative fuel truck that is not only cleaner but also more economical for fleet operators," said Isuzu's Takashi Urata. "The early durability data will allow us to assess this potential with confidence for markets in Japan and elsewhere."