Autonomous Vehicles Gain Traction With Racing Legend Roger Penske

You know autonomous vehicles have hit the big time when innovator, mogul, and racing legend Roger Penske jumps on board the platooning bandwagon.

As reported earlier this month by the Detroit Free Press, “Penske revealed Friday that his truck-leasing operation is looking at ‘platooning’ trucks — running three in a row, with the first and third operated by humans and the middle truck running ‘driverless,’ but with a human ready to take over as needed. Platooning is one of many modes of operating autonomous vehicles being discussed. Penske cited increased productivity as a potential benefit.”

Let’s take a moment to gain a better understanding of what Penske has accomplished over the past 80 years and why Penske’s support for autonomous driving and platooning fleets is so significant.

Roger Penske: A Timeline of an Automotive Legend

1937: Roger Penske is born in Shaker Heights, OH, just 3 hours east of Motor City.

1960: Named SCCA Driver of the Year by Sports Illustrated.

1965: Retires from racing to open his first Chevrolet dealership in Philadelphia.

1966: Penske racing debuts at the 24-hours of Le Mans.

1972: Team Penske makes NASCAR debut.

1977: Tom Sneva drives the team to its first USAC IndyCar championship.

1986: Roger Penske purchases Nazareth Speedway in Pennsylvania (Mario Andretti’s hometown) and redesigns the track from a one-mile dirt oval into a one-mile paved oval.

1995: Inducted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame.

2009: Helio Castroneves delivers Penske’s 15th win at the Indianapolis 500.

2012: Team Penske wins its first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship.

2017: According to Forbes, Penske’s net worth as of 5/23/17 was 1.44 billion.

The Penske Effect

As an extraordinarily successful entrepreneur, Penske knows when to take risks and identify opportunities. In the Free Press article, Penske noted, “We have to be looking ahead because the world is changing in transportation, and with the size of our company, we need to be at the leading edge.”

Today, Penske Truck Leasing maintains 244,000 trucks. It leases a majority of them to FedEx and other major logistics group. With annual sales of more than 20 billion, Penske Automotive has its pulse on the industry’s trends.

In April, the Commercial Carrier Journal reported that Penske Truck Leasing established an onboard technology consulting group as a valued-added service. “The group will help its customers address the proliferation of technology choices and questions fleet operators have about selecting, evaluating, implementing, and using onboard systems. Penske says it takes a device-neutral approach. Onboard fleet technology systems and options are changing rapidly,” said Art Vallely, executive vice president and COO at Penske Truck Leasing. “Many fleet operators simply cannot keep up with the rate of change. Our goal in creating this expert team is to provide customers with an objective, fact-based view of the various onboard technologies such as telematics, ELDs, in-cab cameras, and other emerging technologies going forward.”

At M&W Transportation, we’re keeping our fingers on the industry’s pulse. Contact a recruiter today to learn more.