Swedish startup Einride was founded in 2016 with a mission to electrify freight transport. Today, that means designing electric trucks and an underlying operating system to help overland shippers make the transition to electric. In the future, this means the deployment of electric autonomous freight transport – more specifically Einride’s autonomous pods, which are purpose-built for self-driving and do not accommodate human drivers.
Einride founder and CEO Robert Falck told TBEN a year ago that he felt a moral obligation to create a greener mode of trucking after years of building heavy duty diesel trucks at Volvo GTO Powertrain. In addition, he saw the need to eventually automate the role of long-distance transport.
Falck, a serial entrepreneur, decided against the path many autonomous transport companies have taken – doggedly pushing for self-driving technology, even if it meant putting sensors and software stacks on diesel vehicles. On the contrary, Falck opted for a two-step process to market Einride. The first involves working with OEM partners to build electric trucks and partnering with shippers to deploy and generate revenue. That revenue then goes back to the company for the second step, which is the development of an autonomous system. By the time Einride is ready to hit the market with its autonomous pods, it ideally already has a range of commercial shipping partners in the pipeline.
Einride’s current shipping customers in Sweden and the US include Oatly, Bridgestone, Maersk and Beyond Meat. The company said it clears nearly 20,000 shipments a day.
In the past few months, Einride has partnered with GE Appliances to complete a public road pilot of its electric autonomous pod in Tennessee, launch its electric trucks in Germany in partnership with home appliance giant Electrolux, announce plans to network of cargo charging stations in Sweden and Los Angeles, and introduced its second-generation autonomous pod.
A year after our first interview with him, we caught up with Falck to talk about the challenges of achieving autonomy when road connectivity is lacking, why the Big Tech accidents are actually healthy for the industry and what consolidation looks like for autonomous driving .
The following interview, part of an ongoing series with founders building trucking companies, has been edited for length and clarity.