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Einride’s Freight Mobility Platform is a Trojan Horse for Electrification

After 101,000 kilometers of testing and 3 million pallets transported, Einride has just launched a ‘Freight Mobility Platform’ [1]. What exactly is this and how does it fit into their ambitious plans for an autonomous, electric freight future? 

Like Tesla [2], Einride has its own super-secret master plan hiding in plain view for all to see on its website [3]. What most of us are probably familiar with is that Einride is designing a fully autonomous freight vehicle from the ground up, giving it a truly unique looking form-factor that conspicuously omits a driver’s cabin. Some of you may also be familiar with Einride’s recent admission in April [4] that as part of their roadmap to full autonomy, they will need to first develop human-driven electric trucks. Now, the most recent announcement about the freight mobility platform is the missing key piece of the puzzle. So how does it all fit together? 

According to the plan outlined on Einride’s own website, the fully autonomous pods (including the capability for them to be remotely driven by a teleoperator) is Step 3. In order to get to Step 3, we need to go through Step 2, which is the electrification of the trucking fleet and the building up of charging infrastructure. But in order to get to Step 2, Einride needs to be able to convince current fleet operators that their existing operations are suited to the performance specs of the electric trucks that Einride is designing. But to do this, Einride needs high-resolution data from those fleet operators, which means their fleet operations need to be digitized – and that finally brings us to Step 1 – Einride’s Freight Mobility Platform. 

This platform claims to collect telematics on each individual vehicle in the fleet and provides drivers and fleet managers with “optimized, dynamic route planning based on shipping demands, loading slot availability, and more.” Most crucially to help with getting to Step 2, the platform is designed to collect enough of the right kind of information about a fleet to make customized recommendations on which routes would be best suited for electrification – and it can back these recommendations up with data that estimates the potential cost savings as well as the carbon emissions impact. 

For electric vehicles already in a fleet, the platform can report the current charge state of each vehicle, estimate range based on individual load, recommend charging as needed, and adjust projections according to changing road and weather conditions, all in real-time. Furthermore, as well as making use of available charging infrastructure, the platform can also help determine where new chargers can be installed, either along transport routes or at customer facilities. According to Einride, “Without an intelligent, interconnected ecosystem working constantly behind the scenes, the transition to an electric and autonomous fleet will be nearly impossible.”

 

Personal comments

Einride’s new platform is designed to help them, and the fleet operators working with Einride, to collect the data they need to prove the business case for introducing electric trucks. But what they have also done is package this core function, which is a key part of their publicized 3-Step plan, inside of a much more comprehensive and useful logistics platform that other fleet operators (those not already in partnerships with Einride) could also benefit from. This could potentially be a powerful tool, not just for the fleet operators that use it, but for Einride as it provides a direct sales channel and customer base for their (yet to be produced) human-driven electric truck – which is supposed to have a 24 tonne payload and a range of 200 km. 

This strategy from Einride is actually very similar to one that is also being used by Daimler Trucks in North America. Daimler has recently released a free app named eTruck Ready [5], which records the driving routes of the user’s existing (combustion) vehicle, including speed, acceleration, and altitude profile, while customers have to add important parameters such as payload and outside temperatures afterward using a web portal. Using this data, Daimler’s app then suggests an appropriately suitable electric truck from the Daimler portfolio. 

However, the Einride approach sounds a lot more refined, as its use of advanced telo-metrics suggests that minimal manual input is actually needed from drivers (although no details have been provided about the hardware requirements for this functionality). But most crucially, Einride’s platform appears to give fleet operators plenty of reasons to want to use it, even if they are not primarily interested in electrifying their fleet to begin with. Hence, Einride’s Freight Mobility Platform is in this sense a Trojan Horse for the electrification of freight! 

 

Written by Bobby Chen, RISE.

 

Sources

1. 2020-06-03. Einride launches freight mobility platform for planning and emissions insights

2. 2006-08-02. The Secret Tesla Motors Master Plan (just between you and me)

3. 2020-06-10. Future-proof your supply chain: How to Cut Transport Costs by 50% and Emissions by 90% in 3 Steps

4. 2020-04-22. Einride will now develop human-driven trucks as part of transition to full autonomy

5. 2019-11-12. Daimler launches integrated ecosystem for e-trucks