If you don’t have them in your own home, you’ve seen GE Appliances in someone’s home before, and probably at workplaces or commercial establishments. Moving tons of large appliances around every year, as well as the supplies to produce them, GE Appliances surely generates a lot of transportation emissions. It is now looking to cut those by using electric trucks for some of its transportation needs.
New GE Appliances Ride Electric Trucks from Einride
GE Appliances “is deploying a fleet of electric freight vehicles on routes between the company’s inbound warehouses and its manufacturing facilities in Kentucky, Georgia, and Tennessee.” The electric freight vehicles come from the company Einride. Aside from the clear climate and air quality benefits, GE Appliances notes that these EVs will help it to lower costs and improve reliability.
The Einride electric trucks have a range of 200 miles, the same as my three-year-old Tesla Model 3 Standard Range. That’s not a lot by today’s standards for electric cars, but if it’s all that’s needed for one’s driving patterns, that’s great. GE Appliances indicates that it will be enough for an enormous amount of driving, as the company noted that these electric freight trucks would drive approximately 125,000 miles a year. It takes many drivers 10 years to log 125,000 miles! It would take me more than 10 years. GE Appliances estimates that 210 tons of CO2 emissions will be avoided in the first year of operation.
The electric trucks will be driving between the Port of Savannah and various logistics centers, manufacturing facilities, and finished-goods warehouses for GE Appliances. Aside from Georgia, the trucks will also be operational in Kentucky and Tennessee. GE Appliances writes:
- Georgia: Trucks are routed between the Georgia Port Authority’s Appalachian Regional Port, GEA’s nearby Southern Logistics Center in Crandall, and Roper Corporation, GEA’s cooking products manufacturing subsidiary in LaFayette.
- Kentucky: Trucks travel from the company’s Kentucky Logistics Center to GEA’s massive Appliance Park campus, carrying parts that make GE, GE Profile, and Café refrigerators.
- Tennessee: Starting next month, the focus will be moving finished Monogram refrigerators from the manufacturing facility to the warehouse to await shipping to customers.
The partnership with Einride was announced in October 2021. Autonomous electric trucks were mentioned at the time, but there is no mention of autonomous driving in this more recent news release. (I’ll come back to that.) That earlier press release also mentioned that 970 tons of CO2 emissions would be prevented in the first year of operation. So, perhaps more announcements are on the way once more Einride trucks are deployed. Or perhaps they’ve cut back on their first-year plans?
GE Appliances notes that it has been cutting emissions in other ways, by improving manufacturing processes, but there is surely a large amount of pollution that just comes from transportation that GE Appliances would be wise to cut quickly. “We’ve adopted many environmentally sustainable manufacturing practices to reduce the carbon footprint of our operations,” said Harry Chase, senior director for central materials, GE Appliances. “As we invest and expand our U.S. manufacturing to better serve our customers, we will deploy Einride’s EV technology on routes we frequently use to move materials. That’s where use of these vehicles can have a big impact on reducing emissions and costs.”
Autonomous Einride Electric Trucks or Pods?
You probably noticed in the image at the top that Einride is using BYD electric trucks for now, and they look nothing like the Einride truck concept in the last picture. The latest news we have on that electric autonomous truck is that it was approved by the NHTSA last month for testing on U.S. roads. In March, Einride announced “the world’s first Remote Pod Operator” at SXSW.
“The Remote Pod Operators will observe and support an Einride Pod that is operating in automated drive mode to ensure they run optimally and safely as they ship goods on behalf of Einride’s customers,” the company wrote. “Given the pods’ autonomous capabilities, the operators will not drive the vehicles but instead will be able to provide operational support to multiple pods at a time via their Automated Driving Systems, creating further efficiency that will ultimately allow for increased autonomy. In contrast to conventional trucking, remote operation will be safer, involve more regular hours, and provide a more hospitable work environment for operators.”
Given the fact that these are not the trucks you see at the top and the estimated year-one emissions reductions are not as high as they were in October, I assume that Einride is a bit more delayed getting its autonomous trucks to market than had been anticipated. We’ll see what happens in the next year or two.
The company’s word on its expansion plans with this Remote Pod Operator approach is as follows: “The team of Remote Operators has already expanded behind [Tiffany] Heathcott and will continue to scale alongside growing autonomous operations Einride is providing customers both in the U.S. and in Sweden. Following the official U.S. expansion in November of 2021, Einride has opened up a regional office in Austin, with plans to officially establish a U.S. headquarters in New York. Regional offices in the Bay Area and Los Angeles will open later in 2022.”
Oatly Also Getting a Lift from Einride Trucks (with BYD Logos on Them)
Similar to GE Appliances, Oatly announced deployment of electric trucks from Einride in the US in June. More interesting and surprising is that Oatly has been using electric trucks from Einride in Sweden since 2020. In fact, Einride claims that is the largest electric truck fleet in all of Europe!
Again, you can see the BYD logo on the Oatly–Einride electric trucks in the picture above. Einride indicates that it’s really the software side of things that it is bringing to the table. “The partnership will expand Einride’s freight mobility solutions to Oatly’s North American ground fleet by deploying connected electric vehicles through Einride’s capacity as a service and software as a service offerings. […]
“As part of the end-to-end freight mobility solutions Einride offers, Oatly will receive the connected electric trucks, charging infrastructure and connectivity services, all powered by Einride Saga, the proprietary operating system that manages the trucks and provides a new platform for more efficient and sustainable shipping operations.”
Connectivity and operating systems aside, Oatly transportation on the routes it is using these five electric trucks for is supposed to see an 87% reduction in CO2 emissions. That’s what it’s all about. We can evaluate in future years how Einride’s approach to autonomous trucking compares with Waymo’s approach.
Featured image courtesy of GE Appliances.
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