At a time when venture capitalists are putting the brakes on funding, Swedish tech company Einride found a way to buck that trend, landing a half-billion dollar windfall.
The company, which develops, designs and deploys electric and autonomous-electric freight vehicles announced Wednesday it secured $500 million in financing split between a $200 million Series C equity raise and a $300 million debt facility.
The debt facility, basically a loan, is being led by Barclay’s Europe. Equity investors include Swedish pension fund AMF, EQT Ventures, Northzone, Polar Structure, Norrsken VC and Temasek among other leading investors, the company said. Goldman Sachs Bank Europe SE acted as sole placement agent on the equity capital raise
“Our ambition is to keep on expanding the customer deployments, that’s why we have the financing,” Einride founder and CEO Robert Falck told Forbes.com. “We just hit a major milestone. We managed to save 1 million kilos of CO2 emissions from our customer deployments. Our goal as a company is to save 100 million and with this financing and debt financing we will be well on our way to that goal.”
Winning such major financing is clearly a victory against a strong counter-current. According to a report by consultants CBInsights, global venture funding declined 34% from the second to third quarters this year to $74.5 billion—the largest quarterly drop in a decade.
That’s a point not lost on Falck who declared, “I’m extremely grateful in this tough environment to lock in financing like this.”
He stresses VC investors’ confidence in Einride is in large part based on the Swedish company’s resistance to hype in favor of under-promising and over-performing.
“A lot of the hype last year was unrealistic,” said Falck. “A lot of people went out and looked for money claiming to do what couldn’t be done from a physical perspective—we didn’t because we wanted to be long-term and to be consistently be delivering on we are supposed to do. For us it has been about proving long-term we are here to stay.”
Indeed, an executive at the bank providing the $300 million debt facility said its willingness to back Einride is based on confidence in the company’s technology, environmental philosophy and management.
“This landmark debt facility represents a key milestone in the financing of heavy-duty electric vehicles,” said Gordon Beck, Director of Securitised Products Solutions at Barclays in a statement. “The innovative asset-backed structure complements Einride’s unique ecosystem offering and is a continued demonstration of how Barclays is using our financial and capital markets expertise to support clients in driving the transition to net-zero”
Founded in 2016, Einride has been on a fast track to expansion. Last year the company opened operations in the U.S., bringing with it Pods specially built for use in this country to meet government and safety standards. A flatbed version will be added to the lineup to handle cargo containers.
The Einride autonomous electric transport (AET) called a Pod, operates without a driver and does not even have a space for one. It is monitored by a specially-trained remote driver who can take control if necessary. Einride Saga is its platform for managing electric and autonomous fleets, charging infrastructure and connectivity networks.
Over the past 12 months Einride announced expansions into Germany, Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg and Norway and kicked off operations for several U.S.-based clients including Electrolux, GE Appliances, a Haier company, and Bridgestone.
In October Einride successfully completed a pilot on a U.S. public road with its autonomous vehicle — the first company to receive approval to do so for a vehicle without a safety driver on board. In 2019 it became the first company in the world to operate heavy-duty autonomous vehicles on public roads.
The company has opened regional offices in the U.S. and a headquarters in New York City.
Always forward-thinking, Falck advised new innovations and expansion can be expected before long, smiling as he declared, “The future is coming.”