Although newcomers like Tesla and Nikola grab the headlines, it is established big truck makers like Daimler, Volvo, MAN, and Scania that have been moving forward with their investments in the development of electric semi-trucks. Freightliner, a Daimler Truck North America (DTNA) subsidiary currently has a demo fleet of 40 eCascadia trucks and will introduce commercially available electric semis later this year.
To show off its latest product, Freightliner partnered with Team Penske, using the pre-production, fully-electric Freightliner eCascadia semi-truck to pull a full-sized Team Penske racecar hauler to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum for the NASCAR Clash event.
The season-opening Busch Light Clash at The Coliseum exhibition race marked NASCAR's first visit to the tradition-rich Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. The event was contested around a quarter-mile asphalt oval that was built around the facility’s football field. The Los Angeles event will mark the first time the preseason Clash will be held outside of Daytona International Speedway since its inception in 1979.
The electric semi-truck pulled the racecar trailer from a Penske Truck Leasing (PTL) location in Ontario, Calif. to the inaugural race at the L.A. Coliseum as part of Freightliner’s primary sponsorship of the No. 2 Freightliner eCascadia Ford driven by NASCAR Cup Series Rookie of the Year contender Austin Cindric. The eCascadia remained on display throughout the race weekend, giving fans a firsthand look at the Freightliner battery-electric truck. An estimated 50,000 spectators attended the racing at the novel racetrack.
“Team Penske has been evolving with Freightliner since 1984,” said Team Penske Transportation Director Chris Yoder in a company news release. Yoder oversees 20 Freightliner trucks at the team’s Mooresville, N.C. headquarters and piloted the eCascadia during the historic drive. “I think it’s safe to say we’ve operated every model road tractor Freightliner has produced since 1984. Yesterday’s trip with the eCascadia will mark the pinnacle of our partnership. Together we’ve innovated and developed on the ground floor and this trip is symbolic of the next journey we plan to take together, a carbon-neutral future with a focus on sustainability.”
Team Penske driver Austin Cindric started heat 4 from the fifth position, and with the top four finishers from each heat earning a place in the Main Event, Cindric was in place to advance, running fourth. Unfortunately, contact on lap 11 caused him to spin and lose his position, forcing him to run the Last Chance Qualifier (LCQ) race. Cindric started the second 50-lap Last LCQ from the second position and ran as high as third before getting spun on lap 45. Cindric ran out of laps, finishing in the fifth position, and failed to make the main event.
Still, for Freightliner, the exposure of its latest electric semi-truck had to be positive. “At Freightliner, we’re driven to deliver purposeful innovation for our customers and there’s a tremendous sense of pride to see the innovative all-electric Freightliner eCascadia used by our longstanding partners at Team Penske to make racing history,” said Mary Aufdemberg, general manager, product strategy and market development, DTNA.
Kevin Clemens is a Senior Editor with Battery Technology.