Cummins Promotes Jennifer Rumsey to CEO As Diesel Giant Seeks Cleantech Overhaul

By Alan Ohnsman

The largest maker of diesel engines for trucks and heavy-duty vehicles wants to be a major player in a growing global market for clean electric and hydrogen-fueled commercial vehicles. Leading that charge going forward will be its new CEO, Jennifer Rumsey, who is succeeding long-time chief Tom Linebarger in the role.

Rumsey, currently president and COO of the Columbus, Indiana-based manufacturer, begins her new job on August 1. She’ll be the first woman to lead Cummins since its founding in 1919 and just its seventh CEO in over a century. Linebarger, who’s led the company since 2012, will become executive chairman and also remain board chairman.

During his decade running Cummins and even before that, Linebarger began looking beyond the company’s core diesel business. Among other things, he created its New Power division that’s focused on commercializing battery, hybrid and hydrogen fuel cell systems for trucks, trains and other heavy vehicles. Rumsey, 48, worked closely with him on that and intends to continue the shift to products that generate far less climate-warming emissions.

“This transition is not going to be easy. There’s still significant advancement in some of these technologies needed to be viable for our applications—the technologies that can get you all the way to zero,” Rumsey tells Forbes. For battery and hydrogen systems in particular, “a significant infrastructure build-out has to occur,” she said.

An Indiana native, Rumsey has worked for Cummins since 2000, after spending a year as a group leader working on hydrogen fuel cells for Nuvera. She holds degrees in mechanical engineering from Indiana’s Purdue University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

In taking on this new role, Rumsey joins General Motors’ Mary Barra as one of the few global industrial companies to be led by a woman. And like Barra, who’s pushing GM to become a top seller of zero-emission passenger vehicles, she wants to position Cummins to see the kind of dominance in electric and hydrogen systems it’s achieved in diesel.

The company sells about a million engines annually, mostly diesel, that power trucks, boats, trains, mining equipment, military vehicles and generators. Cummins had net income of $2.1 billion last year on sales of $24 billion. Of that total, its New Power unit contributed just $108 million of revenue in 2021. The company is to release second-quarter and first-half earnings results on Aug. 2.

Cummins is also completing a $3.7 billion acquisition of automotive components maker Meritor announced early this year and there may be more deals to come, Rumsey said, without identifying potential targets.

“We’re continuing to evaluate other acquisitions that make sense to fill in some of the key technology that we may need,” she said. “We’ll do acquisitions when and if they make sense.”

Linebarger, 59, said Rumsey was key to managing Cummins’ global operations as COO, particularly in the past year as supply chain snags and higher commodity prices became big headaches, and is well suited to run things going forward.

“Jen is a once-in-a-generation talent and the right leader for Cummins,” Linebarger said in a webcast. “She’s been my partner in developing the Destination Zero strategy, which sets out how the decarbonization of our industry will be a significant growth opportunity for Cummins.”

The company’s shares fell 1.8% on Thursday to $196.09 in New York.


Photo Source: Cummins Inc.