Autonomous and electric car maker Einride is rolling into Germany, representing its first new market in Europe outside of its home country of Sweden.
In the year In 2016, Stockholm-based Einrid raised about $150 million in funding to commercialize a cab-less autonomous truck, which can be controlled remotely by human operators if needed. It’s a familiar departure from a slew of rival autonomous truck companies that are adapting existing trucks for an autonomous world — Enrid’s trucks are custom-built for autonomy, with no physical space for even a human driver.
These so-called “pods” are designed entirely with commercial customers, but regulatory hurdles mean Einride has had to supply shippers and carriers in Sweden with human-driven electric cars as part of a transition to full autonomy. And to run and optimize fleets alongside its software-based Saga platform in the US, which it launched last year.
It’s also worth noting that EinRide, in partnership with General Electric Appliance (GAA), is preparing to deploy its fully autonomous pods on US public roads and plans to begin work on a mile-long road between a GEA factory and a warehouse. Selmer, Tennessee
In addition to GAIA, Einride has attracted early customers Oatley, Beyond Meat, Bridgestone and Maersk, the latter representing Einride’s largest electric transport order yet, with the Danish shipping company set to deliver around 300. Trucks in Los Angeles, Chicago and New York.
Einrid, which started operations in Germany, is opening a regional office in Berlin and plans to create logistics centers in other major urban areas. This requires a purpose-built charging grid, which Einride says it will create along Germany’s most important trade routes and neighboring trade regions.
Einride is partnering with home appliance giant Electrolux for its German operations to work with Einride to build charging infrastructure at its warehouse facilities.
“Beyond this initial partnership, we are focusing on metropolitan areas such as the Ruhr area, Hamburg, Berlin, where we are planning to build our own charging network along major commercial routes to support the fleet transformation of partners with additional capacity,” Enrid CEO Robert Falk explained to TechCrunch. . “Our initial focus is on three main areas of operation: semi-truck distribution, transportation between distribution centers and plants, and the electrification of first and last mile intermodal transportation.”
But while the initial focus will be on electric cars, self-driving automation will be next on the agenda.
“As we expand our presence and customer list in German-speaking countries (Germany, Austria and Switzerland), we are looking forward to finding local partners ready to implement initial pilot projects with the Enrid Pod, as we have done in the past. In Sweden and the USA,” added Falk.
As one of Europe’s largest economies and a freight and logistics powerhouse spanning road and sea, Germany represents an obvious expansion for Enrid in the European market. On top of that, today’s announcement comes a year after Germany green-lit driverless vehicles on public roads, although the final legislation is still going through the relevant regulatory processes.
“Germany is in the driving seat in Europe – where it goes, others will follow,” Falk said. “We have the opportunity and the technology to make the biggest change in the trucking industry since the invention of the internal combustion engine, and we are ready to make transportation history with our local partners.”