Jacobs Vehicle Systems – ‘Jake Brake’ turns 60!

Jacobs Vehicle Systems
Jacobs Vehicle Systems, a worldwide manufacturer of engine retarding and valve actuation systems for the commercial vehicle industry, celebrates the company’s 60th anniversary in 2021.

In 1961, Jacobs introduced the first engine brake for commercial vehicles, which was invented by Clessie Cummins, the founding father of what is now Cummins Inc. More than nine million Jacobs Engine Brakes have been produced today for commercial vehicles throughout the world.

During the last 60 years, Jacobs Vehicle Systems has evolved from a manufacturer of its trademark Jake Brake to a provider of integrated engineering solutions for the global commercial vehicle industry.

“For more than 60 years, our corporate philosophy has been built around remaining in the forefront of innovation and the development of new and better engine braking and valve actuation solutions for all of our partners and customers,” explained Dennis Gallagher, president of Jacobs Vehicle Systems. “The journey continues as we endeavour to provide our customers with exceptional and advanced products for decades to come and to do so within evolving markets and changing regulatory and environmental guidelines.”

Jacobs Engine Brakes were destined initially for the aftermarket only and were sold exclusively in North America. However, in the late 1980s, interest in the product from the trucking industry began to increase significantly and a shift was made to OEM factory installations. Geographic expansion soon followed, and today Jacobs is selling and delivering engine brakes from its locations in North America, China and Europe to more than 30 customers with locations in Europe, Asia, Africa, North America and South America. The first Jake Brake arrived in the UK in 1975.

In 2019, Jacobs sold its eight millionth engine brake and just two years later – in March 2021 – the nine millionth engine brake rolled off the assembly line.

Innovation is key

Engine retarding technologies at Jacobs have become increasingly more sophisticated over the years, and today the company manufactures four types of retardation systems: exhaust, bleeder, compression release, as well as the next generation of engine retarders, the High Power Density (HPD) brakes.

Jacobs’ product portfolio also includes:

  • Variable Valve Actuation (VVA) and 2-step Variable Valve Actuation, designed to reduce emissions and optimise fuel consumption
  • Cylinder Deactivation Technology (CDA), which decreases emissions and improves fuel economy
  • Active Decompression Technology (ADT), which allows drivers to experience smoother engine start-ups and engine shut-down, and
  • Fulcrum Bridge technology, which eliminates the need for valve lash adjustments and makes lashless valvetrains compatible with engine braking, improving both fuel economy and emissions.

“We are proud of our company’s successes to date. However, we cannot afford to remain static and will continue to evolve,” said Steve Ernest, Vice President of Engineering & Business Development at Jacobs Vehicle Systems. “Our engineers are not just developing brake technologies, but also new and effective valve control technologies to reduce fuel consumption and emissions for commercial vehicles with conventional and alternative powertrains. We continue to be a leader, not only in diesel platforms, but also other systems such as natural gas, hybrid, hydrogen combustion, and more as these solutions continue to be introduced in our industry.” 

Strong partnerships are crucial

In addition to being a technology pioneer, the company continues to build strong partnerships around the world. Some of the company’s partnerships date back nearly 60 years and have been vital to Jacobs’ success.

Jacobs’ partnership with Daimler and Detroit Diesel, for example, began in 1962 when engine brakes were first installed on a Detroit Diesel Series 71 engine. Since then, Jacobs Engine Brakes have been standard equipment, starting with the joint development of the Detroit Diesel S60 engine platform and then again in 2007 with the introduction of the first Daimler Heavy Duty engine platform. Heavy-duty commercial vehicles such as the Mercedes-Benz Actros, Antos and Arocs, the Freightliner Cascadia and Fuso’s Super Great, as well as the Mercedes-Benz and Setra coaches and intercity buses are driven by this engine with integrated Jacobs Engine Brakes.