Einride secures $10 million to speed truck deployment

Einride, a Swedish technology company specializing in autonomous and electric vehicles, on Thursday announced $10 million in new funding led by existing investor Norrsken VC.

EQT Ventures fund, Nordic Ninja VC, Ericsson Ventures and other investors also participated in the round. 

The money, which comes almost exactly a year after Einride raised $25 million in a Series A round, will be used to grow the company in Europe and the U.S., and speed deployment of its signature offering, the Einride Pod, CEO Robert Falck told FreightWaves. 

Additionally, Norrsken VC, an “impact” fund that invests in early-stage technology solutions to social and environmental problems, will join Einride’s advisory board. 

Autonomous trucks with remote drivers

Founded in 2016, Einride has carved out a niche in the autonomous trucking sector with its sleek “T-Pod” trucks that use electric propulsion and don’t have cabs or drivers.

Instead, a remote operator can take control of the vehicle when the driving conditions require human intervention, such as backing up in a complex environment or making a difficult left turn.

Beyond the Pods, Einride debuted a freight mobility operating system last spring that aims to manage the transition to electric and autonomous freight. The company works with equipment and vehicle manufacturers in Europe to supply electric vehicles to customers with telematics that integrate with the freight platform.

Einride’s current customers include Swedish oat drink company Oatly, Swedish delivery company Svenska Retursystem and German retailer Lidl.

U.S. roadmap

Falck said the pandemic had forced the company to postpone plans to hire its first remote drivers, who now are expected to come on board in 2021. That’s also when Einride aims also to put its trucks on the road in the U.S., after opening an office in Silicon Valley last winter.

“Our ambition is to work with local hardware partners and carriers to scale and deploy our technologies,” Falck said, hinting at a major collaboration, to be revealed in the coming months.

A focus on short haul

Among the group of startups aiming to automate heavy duty trucks, Einride is the first to actually operate a driverless vehicle on a public road, an accomplishment Falck credits in part to the company’s narrow focus.

While many of the new entrants aim to automate the long haul, Einride has zeroed on shorter routes that move goods from warehouses to distribution hubs.

“Our bread and butter is literally the short haul,” he said. Going forward, he added, Einride is looking at expanding applications to manufacturing plants and other large facilities.

Referring to the Nikola scandal, in which founder Trevor Milton is accused of falsifying claims about the company’s hydrogen-powered trucks, Falck said the transition to next-generation vehicles is “not about building the coolest and longest-ranging truck.”

Instead, he opined, the focus should be on quality service and making a business case for customers. “There is no magic bullet to the future. This will be a gradual step change.” 

Transportation is one of the largest [greenhouse gas] emitters, and “what the industry does in the coming years will have an enormous impact on reaching sustainability goals,” said Niklas Adalberth, co-founder of Klarna and the Norrsken Foundation, in a press statement about the Einride raise.

“At Norrsken, we have been with Einride since the beginning, and are proud to continue to support this movement towards electric, autonomous transport.”

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