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Lidl to use autonomous, electric truck…and it isn’t a Tesla

12 February 2018

The ‘T-pod,’ an electric self-driving vehicle remotely controlled by drivers, is to be used by Lidl as it begins an ambitious transition to electric, self-driving transportation.

Image courtesy of Einride

Einride was founded with the aim of creating a sustainable transport system to help achieve Sweden's environmental goals and has been planning the T-pod system for over a year. As well as benefiting the environment, the Einride system also improves road safety, creates new jobs and provides more cost-efficient transports for purchasers

It is significantly smaller than today’s heavy trucks and works alongside its innovative charging stations and pioneering infrastructure. Cargo capacity: 15 standard pallets

The new transport system can reduce carbon dioxide emissions from freight transport in Sweden by up to 60 percent by 2030.

The T-pod is about 23 feet long and has an operating weight of 20 tonnes. It is controlled by an operator, which provides the advantage of human flexibility and decision-making, but it also has the ability to take advantage of a self-driving system.

Now, Einride announced it is partnering with Lidl as Lidl begins an exciting and ambitious transition to electric, self-driving transportation. The partnership will bring Einride one step closer to its goal of reducing Sweden’s greenhouse emissions by 40 percent by 2035, and will play a major role in Lidl Sweden’s ongoing sustainability mission. Lidl is an affordable and established European supermarket chain that recently arrived in the United States, and plans to open 100 locations on the East Coast by mid-2018. In 2017, Lidl was the first supermarket in Sweden to compensate for its emissions.

Image courtesy of Einride

If all goes as planned, Lidl Sweden and Einride will roll out the pilot T-pod programme in the third quarter of 2018.

Johannes Fieber, CEO of Lidl Sweden, says, “The supermarket industry is very transport intensive and will continue to produce high emissions as long as it is dependent on fossil fuel technology. During the 2016/2017 fiscal year, Lidl completely switched to alternative fuels such as electricity, natural gas, biodiesel or eco-labelled diesel, which reduced the environmental impact of transport by 25 percent. By switching to electric trucks, transport emissions can decrease by up to 100 percent. Einride’s self-driving T-pod is a big step forward in Lidl’s battle for fossil free transport.”

Sweden’s Transport Agency released a mandate granting permits to self-driving vehicles on public roads in July 2017. Einride and Lidl have contacted the Transport Agency and are planning to submit a license application in November 2017.

Robert Falck, CEO of Einride, says: “Domestic road transport is responsible for approximately 30 percent of Sweden’s greenhouse gas emissions. Our goal is for the T-pod to be used in 40 percent of Swedish road transport by 2035, which would reduce Swedish greenhouse gas emissions by an equivalent 40 percent. Collaboration with Lidl is an important step towards that goal.”

Einride and Lidl will begin testing in Halmstad.

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