Westport, Isuzu Agree to Develop CNG-Diesel Technology

Dec. 29, 2005
CNG-DI system for 5-liter 4-cylinder diesel engine

Westport Innovations Inc. is entering into a joint-partnership and funding agreement with Japan's Isuzu Motors Ltd. to supply Westport's Compressed Natural Gas Direct Injection (CNG-DI) technologies on Isuzu engines and commercial vehicles. Isuzu will provide Westport with C$1.5 million of new funding through 2006 to demonstrate up to 25% improved fuel economy over current spark-ignited CNG engines.

Westport's CNG-DI system applied to an Isuzu 5-liter 4-cylinder diesel engine will meet Japan's Post New Long Term Exhaust Emissions standard for 2009.

Development work will be carried out in Isuzu and Westport engine labs in Japan and Canada. Isuzu and Westport further agreed to work toward completing an Intellectual Property Rights agreement (IPR) during the first quarter of 2006, after which the two firms' engineering teams will work on design for manufacturing and cost optimization.

Isuzu's current model truck, the ELF CNG-MPI, achieves low exhaust emissions but with less efficient spark-ignited technology. According to Isuzu's Masaru Odajima, an executive for Powertrain Engineering, Westport technology offers ultra-low exhaust emissions coupled with fuel economy improvements up to 25% over spark-ignited engines. "Our customers will see the benefits of lower fuel costs and ultra-low exhaust emissions from these new CNG-DI technologies we are advancing with Westport. Westport's high-pressure direct injection of natural gas represents the future of NGVs," he said.

Westport president and COO Michael Gallagher stated that achieving fuel efficiency and emissions targets can create commercial opportunities for both firms.

"We are pleased to continue on our path to commercialization with this renewed commitment from Isuzu," said Gallagher. "We look forward to working with Isuzu to create next-generation vehicles with the goal of exceeding customers performance expectations around the world with Westport's CNG-DI technologies."

The Japanese Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, and Transport (MLIT) is supporting a move toward CNG-powered vehicles, versus diesel-engine power. Earlier this year the MLIT promoted CNG vehicles in Tokyo, Nagoya, and Osaka, set up public and private initiatives to establish more CNG fuelling stations, and expanded subsidies for CNG vehicles and lower CNG prices. Japan currently has more than 24,000 natural gas vehicles and almost 300 refuelling stations.

Westport Innovations develops environmental technologies for engines involving clean-burning fuels (e.g., natural gas, hydrogen, and hydrogen-enriched natural gas.) It started a five-year relationship with Isuzu in December 2000, with a cooperative technology development agreement to develop a high-efficiency, low-emissions direct-injection natural gas fuel system for Isuzu engines.

Isuzu achieved its most successful year year for commercial CNG vehicles in 2005 in Japan, and plans to introduce CNGVs in China and several Southeast Asian countries.