ONTARIO, Calif. (AP) — Team Penske will make history at the Los Angeles Coliseum this weekend when it becomes the first NASCAR team to use an all-electric truck to get its car to the track.
The No. 2 Ford set to be driven by rookie Austin Cindric in the exhibition Busch Light Clash was loaded Thursday into a trailer at Penske Truck Leasing in Ontario to be pulled by Freightliner’s eCascadia tractor roughly 50 miles to the Coliseum. It marks the first time in NASCAR history an electric truck will be used by a team at an official venue.
Both the truck and Cindric's car for The Clash are painted in a matching blue schemes that highlight the eCascadia.
“We’re committed to leading our industry in the transition to commercial electric vehicles and providing increasingly more sustainable truck options to our customers,” said Art Vallely, president of Penske Truck Leasing. “We continue to test new and innovative vehicles in our fleet, and we have been impressed with the performance of these Freightliner vehicles.”
A fully-charged eCascadia can drive roughly 250 miles. The one headed to the Coliseum was charged in Ontario and will be able to make the round trip up and back Interstate 10 without a stop at a charging station.
The 150 KW charging stations at the Penske facility can get the truck to 80% charged in about 90 minutes.
Because commercial trucks require heavy duty charging stations, Penske Truck Leasing is helping develop a charging infrastructure throughout Southern California. The company currently has 20 charging stations at seven locations across the region.
The Busch Light Clash will run Sunday night at the Coliseum in a six-hour spectacular that will feature a DJ, a halftime performance by Ice Cube, and the shortest track in Cup Series history as NASCAR renovated the stadium with a quarter-mile asphalt surface.
Penske saw the event as an opportunity to highlight the push toward electric vehicles and said Thursday that swapping its diesel-fueled Freightliner for the weekend for the eCascadia will save about 17 gallons of gas. Team Penske estimated the same trip done five days a week would save 83 gallons of diesel per week, 4,333 gallons per year. Using the current average Southern California gas price of $4.99 per gallon, the annual fuel savings would be about $21,623.
But Team Penske stressed the electric heavy duty trucks also diminish noise and air pollution, two critical proponents for reducing emissions while fighting climate change.
Penske was the first truck rental and leasing company to join the Freightliner Electric Innovation Fleet when it launched in 2018. Penske took its first delivery of the eM2 box truck that same year, and the first eCascadia was delivered in September, 2019.
Penske Truck Leasing currently leases 10 eCascadias and 10 eM2 box trucks in Southern California and will make them a significant part of the Penske fleet once the units go into production.