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Making the big switch: The future of freight has to live up to the UK’s heritage

3 min read

Making the big switch: The future of freight has to live up to the UK’s heritage

In no other nation has the movement of goods been so critical in defining growth and historical relevance. Success in the United Kingdom has always been distinguished by transport and a pioneering ethos that enabled the British Isles to lead the development of society and new technologies. 

If we can go around the countryside on a boat, pint or wine glass in hand, it is because of the Industrial Revolution, history’s most remarkable turning point – and transport was at its centre. From building canals and bridges to mastering railways and supporting the dissemination of electric vehicles, the UK has influenced inventors and entire industries worldwide. For me – an engineer keen on bending preconceptions –, the impact of self-taught engineer and Scotsman Thomas Telford’s work, for instance, has been far-reaching. 

I’m still astounded by how his projects have drastically shortened travel times across and within countries. Known as the Colossus of Roads, he worked on hundreds of miles of new and improved roads and built over one thousand bridges and waterways in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, including the Göta Canal, which connects my native Swedish west coast to the Baltic Sea. 

Creations from the period were so ingenious that they have survived world wars, crises and pandemics. But little has changed in transport in over 100 years, and to successfully overcome the challenges brought about by present times, innovation and collaboration have to be at the forefront as we lay the foundation for freight mobility and its long-lasting solutions. 

We need to push the industry forward and build the next generation of transport and its infrastructure – one that is cost-efficient, reliable, resilient but, most importantly, one that can live up to the nation’s heritage. 

It is with great excitement that we begin Einride’s operations in the UK and team up with local partners to give back to the nation that inspired us all. We look forward to helping the United Kingdom with its big switch, pioneering electric, autonomous transport systems and accelerating its journey to net zero.

British people are familiar with the harmful effects of air pollution, having grown up with appalling images of the Great London Smog of 1952. While legislation updates have avoided more tragedies of this magnitude, exhaust fumes and current pollution levels have continued to affect people’s health, bolstered by a persistent dependence on fossil fuels. 

Haulage alone is responsible for over 20% of domestic carbon emissions, and with road freight contributing £13.6 billion to the UK’s economy each year, it is imperative that we come together to share knowledge, much like Thelford and his peers did, to advance the UK’s global competitiveness.

Electric lorries are the first step to achieving truly resilient road freight. But alone, they can’t reach their full potential. Fleets need to be in complete harmony with charging systems and infrastructure, loading and unloading schedules, drivers’ well-being and just the proper routes. Through this data-driven approach based on capacity- and software-as-a-service offerings, we can future-proof the industry and allow for a smart, clean and cost-efficient freight ecosystem to thrive.

We’ll introduce the UK’s first electric freight mobility grid, starting in the heart of the Midlands, where as part of our first local commercial partnership, our fully electric HGVs will transport goods for PepsiCo’s Walkers brand, navigating some of those same roads laid out in the early 1800s.

The big switch powered by Einride’s intelligent platform, Saga, will enable PepsiCo to reduce the distance travelled using fossil-fuel powered lorries by over 250,000 miles annually. Across three years, it will have cut the equivalent of 1,623 tonnes of CO2 emissions. And that’s just the beginning. 

Together with local companies and governments, we have the potential to change road freight with boundless impact on businesses, society and the environment – and revitalise the UK’s role as transport royalty.

Robert Falck

CEO and Founder of Einride

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