Report on the Engine Programming Project

October 29 2017

Today’s engines feature nearly 200 programmable parameters making it possible to optimize engine operation with regard to the vehicle’s characteristics and operating conditions. It is believed that, if optimally performed, the adjustment of the engine’s Electronic Control Module (ECU) could provide many benefits, such as increased fuel efficiency and improved performance. Discussions with engine manufacturers have brought to light their interest in a project that would demonstrate the importance of engine programming for efficiency and environmental performance in the trucking industry.

With that in mind, FPInnovations, through the PIT Group, launched a project in 2014, aimed at assessing the impact, on the industry, of optimized programming of commercial vehicle engines. The project, carried out with government funding received through Transition énergétique Québec, was supported by major partners, including Cummins Eastern Canada SEC, ASMAVERMEQ, and several carriers that agreed to take part in this project.

The 26-month project had three main objectives: to develop standard programming based on specific applications, to compare the energy and environmental efficiency of vehicles using these programs, and to disseminate the results within the transportation industry.

The first series of track tests were conducted in September 2016 and included school buses, specialized haul trucks, and regional haul trucks. A second series of track tests was performed in February 2017 in order to gather more data; these tests included two categories of vehicles: passenger transportation (school buses) and specialized transportation (local delivery trucks). Unlike the tests of September 2016, three different driving techniques were used: aggressive driving, normal driving and eco-responsible driving.

Overall, the project led to promising results, which are briefly presented below:

Local transportation: 4-28% reduction in average fuel consumption in the city and 3-14% on highways, depending on the period and test vehicle

School buses: Significant reduction in average fuel consumption, up to 12.4% in the city and up to 9.5% on highways, depending on the period and test vehicle

Long-haul transportation: At a constant speed, track tests showed fuel savings up to 7% when power and speed were reduced.

A pilot project, initiated in October 2017, will continue until November. Under this project, Cummins, as the authorized agent, is offering truck operators the opportunity to improve their performance through detailed analysis and programming of UCE parameters. Interested clients are invited to meet with an advisor to validate the return on investment and evaluate the economic potential on their equipment. Some companies have already taken advantage of this service. For those who miss this promotion, they will have the opportunity to obtain this service by contacting Cummins directly.

The findings of this project will be released next spring, with the production of the final report. Meanwhile, companies interested in further details may consult the three progress reports (in French only) available here.

For more information on this project, please contact:

Marc Trudeau, Industry Advisor/Researcher at FPInnovations, by phone at 514 782-4711, or by email at