Einride raises $25M to put more of its T-Pod autonomous trucks on the road

Einride AB, one of the few European startups competing in the race to develop driverless trucks, today revealed that it has secured a $25 million funding round to support expansion plans.

Sweden-based Einride is commercializing an autonomous, electric freight hauler called the T-Pod (pictured) that weighs 26 metric tons and looks radically different from the traditional trucks it aims to replace. The main reason behind the vehicle’s unusual appearance is the absence of a driver cabin. The startup claims that the T-Pods will be up to 60% cheaper to operate than a diesel truck driven by people. 

Under the hood, the vehicle uses Nvidia Corp.’s Drive computing module to power its autonomous driving system. The T-Pod operates at Level 4 autonomy, which means that it can navigate the road without any guidance most of the time but requires human input in certain situations. Einride provides a remote control system to fill this need that allows a single operator to manage up to 10 trucks.

The T-Pod already has some miles under its belt. This year, logistics provider DB Schenker Btt GmbH started using one of Einride’s trucks to shuffle merchandise between a warehouse and a terminal in southern Sweden. Einride is aiming to grow the number of T-Pods roaming the roads to 200 by the end of next year, Chief Executive Officer Robert Falck told Reuters in May.

The three-year-old startup may very well achieve that goal given the pace at which it has been racking up customers. Besides DB Schenker, Einride has also received orders from tire maker Michelin SCA, supermarket chain Lidl Ltd. and five unnamed Fortune 500 retailers.

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The startup will spend the new funding on opening a U.S. office that it plans to use as a springboard into the domestic truck market. The investment was co-led by European venture capital firms EQT Ventures and NordicNinja VC. The latter fund is notable for its auto industry connections: NordicNinja VC is backed by the likes of Honda Motor Co. Ltd and Panasonic Corp., which makes the batteries in Tesla Inc.’s electric cars.

Other autonomous truck startups are also attracting investor interest. San Francisco-based Embark Trucks Inc., which is building a fleet of driverless 18-wheelers, announced a $70 million funding in September that included the participation of Sequoia Capital and Y Combinator. TuSimple Inc. picked up a $120 million round that same month to pursue its vision of automating long-haul freight deliveries.  

Photo: Eindrive

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