Autonomous and electric truck company Einride is expanding into the UK, marking the latest in a line of expansions into the European market.
Einride said it is looking to target the 1.6 billion tonnes of goods transported by road in the UK each year. Its first UK deployment will be in partnership with PepsiCo’s snacks subsidiary Walkers, which will use Einride’s trucks and platform to deliver goods between the cities of Leicester and Coventry, which it says will help reduce the transportation powered by fossil fuels at 250,000 miles each. year.
PepsiCo’s initial launch will be more of a three-year pilot program before committing to any route expansion.
“With this initial deployment, we hope to better understand the potential role electric trucks can play in our transport operations,” Archana Jagannathan, PepsiCo UK’s director of sustainability, said in a statement.
PepsiCo is highly successful as a launch partner, although Einride has struck other big-name business deals elsewhere, including Electrolux in Germany and GE Appliances in the US, the latter as a pilot partner for Einride’s fully self-contained pods ( more on that below).
Over time, Einride says it plans to set up a “freight mobility network” spanning some of the busiest freight routes, starting in the Midlands and stretching through many major conurbations, including Sheffield, Manchester, Birmingham, Bristol and London.
Founded in Sweden in 2016, Einride garnered attention in the European mobility space for its cabless autonomous cargo truck that can be remotely controlled by human operators when needed.
Although these “pods” are being tested commercially in Sweden and the US, regulatory hurdles mean Einride has had to expand its scope to also include human-powered electric trucks as part of a transition period, backed by its Saga platform that helps its load. and logistics customers manage and optimize their fleets. And this is what PepsiCo will be using as part of its partnership with Einride, starting with two connected electric trucks that will be deployed in the Midlands from July.
“As Einride expands its presence and customer list in the UK, it hopes to find innovative local partners, both in terms of customers and legislation, who are ready to implement projects using Einride’s autonomous technology” a spokesperson told TechCrunch. “Einride plans to explore autonomous operations in a phased approach, with a focus on fenced off areas at customer sites, or within a licensed project on public roads with less complexity, for example between a production site and a warehouse or hub. of distribution”.
Einride had already expanded to the US in 2021, while in recent months it has spread to Germany and the Benelux region (Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg), with plans to target Norway this year as well. Its latest expansion comes on the heels of a major UK government initiative designed to decarbonise the country’s freight transport by road, rail and sea, and it recently launched a new £7m fund for SMEs working to make that the national cargo is cleaner.
Although Einride is not one of the beneficiaries of this Freight Innovation Fund (FIF), the company has just raised $500 million from a host of investors, including $300 million in debt financing from Barclays Europe that Einride has been using to bolster its vehicle fleet as it continues to expand its footprint in Europe and North America. .