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Automotive Electrification Gets A Chance To Shine At Nascar Race

By News Creatives Authors , in Business , at January 1, 1970

When NASCAR driver Aric Almirola won the pole at Bristol Motor Speedway on the Friday prior to the Cup series race, he brought a great deal of attention for a sponsor new to the sport.

The Stewart-Haas Racing driver is part of Ford’s racing program and as such the brand uses its sponsorship to highlight Ford products or services on occasion. Almirola’s sponsor for the Bristol night race, however, was an unusual one, not a Ford product or service, but a place.

It’s no secret that the automotive industry is transitioning to the more environmentally friendly world of electrification. That transition went into overdrive this year due in large part to higher oil and gas prices. In the first quarter of 2022 Ford reported a 139% increase in sales of electric vehicles. That growth was attributed to its Mustang Mach-E and E-Transit vehicles, currently the only two EVs in the inventory. The company started shipping its F-150 Lightning pickup truck in the following months as the growth shows no signs of slowing.

It should come as no surprise then that Ford is working on the infrastructure to support the EVs growth in the coming years. One of latest investments is BlueOval City a 3600-acre campus covering six square miles that will produce the new electric truck and batteries to power future Ford and Lincoln vehicles when it opens in 2025.

So why advertise BlueOval City via a NASCAR racecar at a race at Bristol? BlueOval City is being built in Stanton, a town in western Tennessee less than 500 miles from the track. The $5.6 billion investment Ford is making in BlueOval will make it one of the largest manufacturing campuses in U.S. history and will create some 6,000 jobs.

With the Bristol night race traditionally being one of the best attended races on the NASCAR circuit, it gave Ford a chance to showcase BlueOval City to thousands of fans, many of whom live in the area.

“We know how much Tennessean’s love motorsports,” said Kel Kearns, electric vehicle center plant manager at BlueOval City. “To be on Aric’s car this weekend for one of the most popular events of the season is a wonderful way to spread the message of who we are and the arrival of BlueOval City.”

Altogether Ford along with its Korean battery partner SK innovation will be investing a total of $11.4 billion in BlueOval City and two battery factories in Glendale, Kentucky.

Almirola has been a Ford driver for much of his entire 11-year career racing fulltime in NASCAR’s Cup series and has seen how the brand has progressed when it comes EVs.

“It has been so much fun for me to be able to see behind the curtain.,” Almirola said. “Here’s another opportunity to be involved in the future of Ford Motor Company and to be able to cast a spotlight on BlueOval City and what a phenomenal place that they’re gonna build there. They’re gonna create between there and BlueOval SK 11,000 new American jobs. It’s just incredible and it’s been really enjoyable to be along for the ride throughout the journey.”

MORE FROM FORBESNascar’s Next Gen Car Is Preparing The Sport For Electrification

While it might seem odd to showcase an electric vehicle future at a NASCAR race, electrification isn’t something NASCAR is shying away from. Their Next Gen racecar, which made its competitive debut this season, is designed with an architecture that will support a hybrid system in the future. In fact, the sport has already done some testing with the new system and there is talk a hybrid racecar could be demonstrated in the next couple of years.

And NASCAR’s drivers are already onboard with EVs.

“I’ve driven the Mach-E quite a bit,” Almirola said. “The people at Ford were gracious enough to let me have one for a week and the kids loved it. We raced every single person we could from a stop light in Mooresville, Cornelius and Kannapolis, North Carolina. Everybody that was willing to race us from a stop light we raced, at least to the speed limit. So, zero to 45 or zero to 55 I don’t think there was a race we lost, so we had a lot of fun with that.”

Almirola sees the transition to electrification in the automotive space as a progression as natural as those seen in earlier times.

“I feel like we’re living in one of those eras to where you’re getting ready to see something spectacular and you’re getting ready to live through it,” Almirola said. “You think back to when we went from those big heavy muscle cars to lighter weight more aerodynamic more sophistication, more electronics, electronic fuel injection and all those things. My father and grandfather got to live through that transition, so here we are getting ready to live through the transition of seeing more electrification and what the capabilities are.”

As a professional racer, the only thing that Almirola cares about is what happens behind the wheel. And he says what’s under the hood isn’t that important.

“I think that’s the most impressive part from my standpoint is for a guy that likes to hold the steering wheel and to mash the throttle, you want it to be an exciting experience,” he said. “You want to enjoy driving the vehicle and I’ve been just amazed and fascinated with the vehicles that Ford has put out with electrification.”

Almirola led the field to the green at Bristol Saturday night and showed off Ford’s BlueOval City to the NASCAR world. And it probably won’t be the last time the electrification of the car will be showcased to NASCAR and its fans.

“It’s a great opportunity to showcase what’s happening in BlueOval City in Tennessee at Bristol and partner with a great event with NASCAR and Aric and his Ford Mustang,” Kearns said.

“Electrification is the future. It’s the next generation. It’s exciting new technology, but that doesn’t change what Ford is. Ford is about Ford Performance and racing is part of our DNA, so that’s what we’re going to showcase this weekend as we move forward and showcase BlueOval City on the No. 10 this weekend.”


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