Einride founder Robert Falck on his moral obligation to electrify autonomous trucking – TechCrunch
Robert Falck used to work in a Russian trucking factory day and night, he created a nightclub guest list start-up. He also collects old books and once guessed that Chinese author Gao Xingjian would win the Nobel Prize for Literature. He grew up on a farm, but has degrees in finance, economics, and mechanical engineering.
No, this is not a game of two truths and a lie – indeed, these are snippets from the life of a serial entrepreneur harboring a vendetta against the carbon emissions produced by the global trucking industry.
Falck, now CEO and founder of Swedish autonomous freight company Einride, also worked as director of manufacturing technical assembly at Volvo GTO Powertrain. He learned how heavy-duty vehicles are mass produced during his three and a half years there, and also helped start up and invest in other businesses. Einride, which he founded in 2016, is his seventh company.
Einride’s activity is threefold. It currently operates one of the largest electric truck fleets in Europe, but its main offering is its autonomous electric boom lifts, autonomous freight trucks built without a front cabin and without room for a human operator. The startup also offers an IoT system called Saga that runs through its fleet and helps the company and its maritime partners optimize routes, manage and electrify fleets.
Einride launched its operations in the United States this month and plans to operate its modules, trucks and operating systems with partners such as GE Appliances, Bridgestone and Oatly. In May, the company raised $ 110 million to help fund its expansion into the United States, bringing its total funding to $ 150 million.
We sat down with Falck to talk about Einride’s strategy to increase revenue, the need to build autonomous vehicles on electric platforms, and why the future is in the hands of startups.
“The average OEM will have to amortize between six and seven years of profits to get rid of the legacy investments in diesel rigs. ”
The following interview, which is part of an ongoing series with founders building transportation businesses, has been edited for length and clarity.
TechCrunch: In addition to your work at Volvo, you launched two nightclub-related platforms and a hunting app. Why Start a Self-Contained Trucking Business?
Robert Falck: Working at Volvo, producing diesel engines, transmissions and trucks, made me realize the challenges the industry faces and that I have a moral obligation. I mean, the heavy freight transport industry accounts for between 7% and 8% of global CO2 emissions, and the engines I helped produce contribute about 1% of global CO2 emissions. This is how much of a real impact my previous post had, and I realized that I was part of the problem.
Starting a business doesn’t really make sense. Either you are crazy or if you are there for the money, you won’t make it because there are much easier ways to make money. But for me, I see CO2 emissions as the biggest challenge of our generation. And it’s quite fascinating to see how secondary failure becomes secondary when you know you’re doing it for the right reasons.
You have been described as a serial entrepreneur. Are you with Einride for the long haul, or are you already thinking about your next startup?
I think all entrepreneurs are excited about entrepreneurship. And I’m definitely more of an entrepreneur and business builder than a director and manager. I’m not the type to just sit there and keep the status quo. It’s not my thing.
So, will your next startup tackle CO2 emissions, but just in a different industry?
Many very traditional industries are poised for disruption, and this will challenge and change the society at its core. The main driver behind this is that if you look at a global scale, there is a huge demand for sustainability.
I think most of the businesses that are going to change or save the planet will be created within the next five to ten years, and there is a lot of potential in some of the more traditional parts of the economy. Everything from trucking and auto space to real estate, a lot of these big games are yet to be won. I think energy – smart grids and the way we structure energy production – will be another.
So you think most of the climate tech that will solve the biggest problems will come from startups rather than traditional businesses?