PI and Alternative Clean Transportation

May 05, 2014

As Powertrain Integration™ (PI) celebrates ten years of providing OEM General Motors powertrain solutions, its commitment to alternative clean transportation has never been stronger. PI gasoline engines have solidly penetrated the medium duty truck sector where diesel predominates, while PI’s propane autogas and compressed natural gas (CNG) engine offerings have made similar inroads. As a supplier of alternative fuel engine packages in that sector, Powertrain Integration shares the distinction of volume OEM production with only one competitor; all other alt-fuel options in the medium duty segment are aftermarket installations performed by upfitters. Among OEM engine providers, Powertrain Integration is unique in the level of service support it offers for its products: a call to (855) 305-1500 connects customers and authorized service providers to live tech assistance.

Powertrain Integration’s experience in supplying alternative clean transportation starts at the top: President Robert Pachla has thirty plus years in the alt fuel engine industry. Pachla began his automotive supply career in 1980 before joining IMPCO Technologies as a consultant in 1983—at the time the largest global supplier of alternative fuel systems. During the early 1990s, Pachla was instrumental in the founding of the company known today as Quantum Technologies and IMPCO Industrial Engines Systems. During Pachla’s years at IMPCO, he shepherded multiple alternative fuel initiatives including the first Ford alt fuel QVM program along with second stage manufacturing conversions for GM.

PI President Robert Pachla

Powertrain Integration President Robert Pachla

Pachla started Powertrain Integration™ (PI) in 2004 as a joint venture with Wheel To Wheel, long known for its vehicle and powertrain engineering development for GM, as a one stop solution for General Motors on-highway engines. PI engineers, packages, and integrates GM engines and transmission products for niche markets such as medium duty trucks, delivery vehicles, motor homes, school buses, and specialty vehicles, including alternative fuel and hybrid vehicles.

In 2007, Pachla spearheaded PI’s first alternative fuel program: development of the GM 8.1L V8 big block engine for propane operation—the first all new spark fired propane autogas engine for the school bus market in decades. From 2008 through early 2012, Blue Bird Bus factory installed the PI propane autogas 8.1L engine package in thousands of units until GM discontinued the 8.1L for that application.

Blue Bird Bus Vision 8.1L propane autogas Powertrain Integration

PI team integrated the GM 8.1L propane autogas engine into Blue Bird Vision bus.

As soon as the demise of the 8.1L engine was announced, PI went to GM with a proposal for a replacement. PI’s totally re-imagined 8.0L V8 Liquid Propane Injection (LPI) engine was engineered and developed to the strictest of OE standards and validation.  Now named PIthon™, the 8.0L big block engine enters regular vehicle production as a propane autogas offering in June 2014.
Freightliner Custom Chassis Corporation S2G in propane bobtail delivery configuration,

Freightliner Custom Chassis Corporation S2G in propane bobtail delivery configuration,

PI continues to partner with vehicle OEMs including Freightliner Custom Chassis Corporation (FCCC) and Thomas Built Bus. The PIthon 8.0L V8 LPI that powers the FCCC S2G truck is aimed squarely at propane delivery bobtails with many other applications to follow in the up to 33,000 lbs GVW class, while production of the Thomas Saf-T-Liner C2 Propane with the PIthon engine restores competition to the propane autogas Class C school bus market.
C2 Propane

Thomas Built Buses Saf-T-Liner C2 Propane with PIthon 8.0L engine.

Powertrain Integration PIthon™ 8.0L LPI propane autogas engine.

PIthon™ 8.0L LPI propane autogas engine powers S2G trucks and C2 Propane buses.

Introduction of PIthon™ as an autogas engine option follows news of the history-making announcement that UPS turned to PI to integrate and supply its GM 6.0L V8 LC8 propane autogas engine for 1,000 UPS delivery vehicles. The LC8 engine package is available to other buyers in FCCC’s new MT-45/55G walk-in vans, proving that companies need not own large fleets to share in the massive cost savings of switching to propane autogas. If desired by OEMs and fleets, Powertrain Integration™ also sells the LC8 engine for conversion to CNG operation.
Powertrain Integration supplies the GM LC8 6.0L engine with CleanFUEL USA Liquid Propane Injection or can assist OEM customers in sourcing a CNG system.

Powertrain Integration supplies the GM LC8 6.0L engine with CleanFUEL USA Liquid Propane Injection or can assist OEM customers in sourcing a CNG system.

In addition to its leadership in developing and providing alternative fuel engine packages, PI integrates OEM GM Powertrain solutions with electric and hydraulic power sources to produce innovative blends of propulsion. Electric hybrid vehicle manufacturers focused on optimizing their electrical drive system rely upon PI’s affordable, reliable, fuel efficient engines to generate power on demand, while hydraulic hybrid vehicle OEMs wishing to add to the efficiency of their systems look to PI for gasoline and alternative fuel engines to further reduce emissions and fuel costs.

Powertrain Integration’s long experience and proven expertise in varied areas of alternative clean transportation are evidenced by the industry’s embrace of its offerings and matched by the superior support which PI provides for its products in the field.