Einride founder on building foundational business to support future tech goals TechCrunch

Swedish startup Einride Founded in 2016, its mission is to electrify freight transport. Today, that means designing electric trucks and underlying operating systems to help ground shippers transition to electric trucks. In the future, that will mean deploying electric autonomous freight — and more specifically, Einride’s self-driving pods, which are designed for self-driving and can’t accommodate human drivers.

Einride founder and CEO Robert Falck told TechCrunch a year ago that after Volvo GTO Powertrain spent years building heavy-duty diesel trucks, he felt a moral obligation to create a greener mode of freight delivery. Most importantly, he saw the need to eventually automate long-haul trucking.

Falck, a serial entrepreneur, decided against the route many self-driving trucking companies have taken — relentlessly pursuing self-driving technology, even if it means putting sensors and software stacks on diesel vehicles. Instead, Falck chose to bring Einride to market in two steps. The first involves working with OEM partners to build electric trucks and working with shippers to deploy them and earn revenue. This revenue is then reinvested back into the business for the second step, the development of autonomous systems. By the time Einride is ready to bring its autonomous pods to market, ideally, it already has a range of commercial shipping partners.

Einride’s current shipping customers in Sweden and the US include Oatly, Bridgestone, Maersk and Beyond Meat. The company says it clears nearly 20,000 shipments a day.

In the past few months, Einride has completed a public road pilot of electric self-driving pods in Tennessee with GE Appliances, launched an electric truck in Germany in partnership with appliance giant Electrolux, and announced plans to build a network of freight charging stations in Germany Sweden and Los Angeles, and launched its second-generation autonomous pod.

A year after our initial interview with Falck, we sat down to discuss the challenges of implementing autonomous driving in the absence of road connectivity, why the crashes of big tech companies are actually good for the industry, and what the integration of autonomous driving looks like.

The following interview is part of a series with founders of building transportation companies and has been edited for length and clarity.

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