ASHWAUBENON, Wis. —  One of the nation’s largest trucking companies is dipping its toes into a new technology — battery-powered electric trucks.

Schneider is testing a new Freightliner eCascadia tractor unit. It’s part of a Freightliner program giving trucking companies an opportunity to gain practical experience with the still-developing technology.

“They are just starting to design and deliver a few test trucks that are electric-battery trucks,” said Rob Reich, Schneider’s chief administrative officer. “We were fortunate to get one for a few months that we can put into our fleet and learn about the operations of a how an electric battery vehicle works.”

Operators like Schneider are using the opportunity to figure out how best to use the truck. Schneider is testing the truck with its intermodal fleet in southern California.

Electric trucks offer another tool for helping reduce the environmental footprint of the industry.

“The big picture of this is absolutely both a sustainability initiative and an opportunity to have a responsible approach to our impact on the environment,” Reich said. “That’s important to us at Schneider, and it’s very important to our shippers and customers as well.”

He said the company will also offer feedback to Freightliner as it further refines the design.

“One of the really important parts of this is getting a few of our drivers out in southern California the opportunity to drive it and be able to share what’s the experience of driving this electric vehicle versus a standard diesel we do today,” he said.