When asked which company was the first to create an autonomous electric freight truck, most people are wrong. And when asked which company was the first to create an autonomous electric truck that is allowed to drive on public roads, most people are also wrong. It’s not Tesla, it’s not Alphabet’s Waymo, Uber, or Lyft, and it’s not one of the big car or truck makers.
It is Einride (pronounced as “n-ride”), a Swedish startup founded in 2016. I spoke to Linnéa Kornehed, 29, listed co-founder Forbes 30 Under 30 and CMO of Einride, to find out how they did this.
Some facts about Einride
Founded in 2016, Einride today has around 100 people and has raised a total of $ 41 million in funding. Good for a startup, but totally incomparable to the many billions that all of the above large companies have invested in electric and autonomous driving. And yet, it was this startup that beat them all by putting their first truck on the road, or “Pod” as Einride likes to call them. As Kornehed explains, “the day after Elon Musk ad the launch of the Tesla Semi, we have already launched our Pod. “
If you’re not already impressed with this, here are some more facts about Einride:
- Named in Fast Company’s prestigious annual list of the world’s most innovative companies for 2021 in the Transportation category
- Winner of the Edison Awards 2020 for innovations and innovators
- Winner of the European Mobility Startup Award, an EU-funded acceleration and investment program for sustainable mobility startups
- CB Insights Game Changers 2020 is one of 36 startups that could change the world
- Featured on the 100 Global Cleantech 2020 list
- First place in the “Sustainable transport” and in the “People’s Choice Award”, in the Electronic price competition from the energy company E.ON. and Veckans Affärer
- Exclusive member of the World Economic Forum, Shaping the future of mobility
The many brands that have already partnered with Einride, including Coca-Cola, Lidl, Oatly and Ericsson, are further proof of their strength, and the fact that they are the first to set a record for an autonomous electric transport vehicle. at the top. Speed running track (see photo and watch here).
Einride business model
Einride is no ordinary truck maker. It does not produce their pods, nor their pods for sale. Similar to a company like Apple, Einride is in charge of the design, technology and branding of their trucks, as well as control of the entire chain to which they outsource production, assembly and logistic. But the most important is its software platform. As Kornehed explains, “Basically, Einride is first and foremost a software company. It’s our platform that makes the difference. “
Einride has adopted the TaaS (Transportation as a Service) model. This means that as a customer you don’t buy their products but subscribe to a monthly service. In other words, you are buying a transport rather than a vehicle. The reason for adopting this innovative economic model lies in the specificities of autonomous and electric driving.
Kornehed: “Autonomous and electric driving requires careful and systematic planning. It is best to do this at the level of the fleet in order to have an efficient and safe overall planning that makes the best use of the range and the possibilities of recharging vehicles. With their TaaS model, software platform and ‘control room’, Einride can plan much more efficiently than individual transport companies could – and thus help them save money and money. reduce emissions.
Why and where then?
When asked why Kornehed joined Einride and what the company’s motivation is, there is no doubt: climate change. As Kornehed continues, “road freight transport is responsible for 7% of global greenhouse gas emissions. And the volume of goods shipped is increasing at a rate of 3-4% every year. Self-driving electric trucks could transform road freight transport as we know it by reducing CO2 emissions by 90%, Einride said. Besides, it could also reduce operating costs by 60% and drastically improve road safety.
When asked if less transportation might not be a better solution, Kornehed replies, “Logistics and transportation are so important in today’s global economy. We don’t want to let that go. The same goes for travel which is great. We should be able to keep all of this, but in a responsible and sustainable manner. “
The company wants to lead by example and show that the transformation towards electric and autonomous freight transport is within reach. As they show, the technology is there and the legal hurdles can be overcome. Admittedly, their current public road permit is very limited and limited to a small section of a public road in Sweden. But that means the start is there, even in Europe where the legal side is particularly problematic.
Going forward, Einride’s next steps begin operations in the United States and expand further in Europe. And, at the end of Kornehed, “we hope to show people and businesses that it is possible to make a change. But change doesn’t just happen. By achieving all that we have accomplished in just five years with our startup, we hope to inspire others to take their own sustainability initiatives.