During a flashy event in November 2017, Tesla founder Elon Musk presented the company’s new roadster and semi-truck to the public.
The truck’s features are quite impressive. An 800-kilometre range and more than two-thirds of the battery rechargeable within 30 minutes. Production is scheduled to start in 2019, but then again, Tesla – known for long delays and technical production problems – is not known for its accuracy on deadlines.
Tesla gains more criticism
The experts are also far from convinced of Tesla’s new semi. “Musk believes he can override the laws of nature,” said industry expert Guido Reinking after the truck was presented to Business Insider.
According to the expert, a battery designed to deliver the performance specified by Musk would weigh between five and ten tons.
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It is not only Reinking who does not consider Tesla’s plans to be feasible. Many experts are now critical of Elon Musk’s visions – too often has he failed to meet analysts’ and investors’ expectations in the past.
And while Tesla attracts attention with the mentioned production difficulties with the Model 3 and plans such as the truck and the new roadster, a small startup from Sweden has discretely overtaken the big US competitor.
Swedish startup Einride takes a different approach
Einride was founded by Robert Falck.
Five years ago, at the age of 30, he was responsible for the engine production of Volvo’s in nine factories around the world, according to the Süddeutscher Zeitung. But his true passion was autonomous and electrically powered trucks. He has already worked on a research project on autonomous cars at Stanford University, where he came up with the basic idea for Einride.
The first result has been ready for the summer of 2017: the prototype of a self-driving truck, which is completely battery-powered – and with that, the company already has more to show for itself than Tesla.
According to the Süddeutscher Zeitung, Falck invested a total of EUR 3.5 million in his startup, the money coming from his own pockets and private investors. The newspaper quotes him saying, “After years in the business of trucks, I knew what you could and couldn’t do.”
In addition, it is faster and cheaper for a startup to implement new ideas.
He succeeded in creating the “T-Pod”. It has no windows and no driver’s cab and 15 standard pallets fit into the hold. The range is “only” 200 kilometres, but that’s no problem. “As soon as you don’t have to pay a driver, it costs no more money if the truck has to stop and load up in between,” he explains.
LIDL has already signed up for the T-Pods
According to the report, Einride already has a first customer: grocery chain Lidl. Throughout this year, the grocer’s warehouses in Sweden will be supplied by the “T-Pods”.
This reveals the difference in strategy compared to Tesla. Einride does not sell its trucks to freight forwarders but rather wants to win over the companies themselves as customers.Employees will monitor the vehicles and control them remotely in critical situations.
Next up could be the US, where highways without pedestrians nearby offer a perfect environment for autonomous trucks, according to Falck.