Swedish startup Einride was founded in 2016 with a mission to electrify freight transport. Today, that means designing electric trucks and a core operating system to help ground shippers make the transition to electric. In the future, this will mean the deployment of electric autonomous freight transport — specifically, Einride’s autonomous pods, which are specifically designed to drive themselves and cannot accommodate human drivers.
Einride founder and CEO Robert Falk told TechCrunch a year ago that he felt moral obligation to create a greener form of freight transport after spending years building heavy-duty diesel trucks in the Volvo GTO Powertrain. On top of that, he saw the need to eventually automate the role of long-haul shipping.
Falck, a serial entrepreneur, decided to go against the path many autonomous transportation companies have taken — doggedly pursuing self-driving technology, even if it meant putting sensors and software stacks on diesel vehicles. Rather, Falck opted for a two-step process to bring the Einride to market. The first involves working with OEM partners to build electric trucks and partnering with suppliers to deploy and monetize them. This revenue is then fed back into the business for the second step, which is the development of an autonomous system. By the time Einride is ready to go to market with its autonomous pods, it will ideally already have a set of commercial delivery partners in its pipeline.
Einride’s current delivery customers in Sweden and the US include Oatly, Bridgestone, Maersk and Beyond Meat. The company said it processes nearly 20,000 shipments a day.
Over the past few months, Einride has completed a public road pilot of its electric, autonomous capsule in Tennessee with GE Appliances, launched its electric trucks in Germany in partnership with home appliance giant Electrolux, has announced plans for building a network of cargo charging stations in Sweden and Los Angeles and unveiled its second-generation autonomous capsule.
We sat down with Falck a year after our initial interview with him to talk about the challenges of achieving autonomy when roads lack connectivity, why Big Tech crashes are actually good for the industry, and what consolidation looks like for autonomous driving.
The following interview, part of an ongoing series with founders building transportation companies, has been edited for length and clarity.