Electrification, Autonomy and the Middle Mile: A Perfect Fit

Gautam Narang
Published in
3 min readFeb 17, 2021


The way we see it:

  1. In North America alone, 30% of greenhouse gas emissions come from the transportation sector, creating the responsibility and opportunity to act now.
  2. Our customers have ambitious sustainability goals and they’ve asked us to help them meet them — we’ve said “game on!”
  3. Fixed, point-to-point middle mile logistics is a natural fit for an electric vehicle’s range and charging infrastructure.

There’s one question we ask ourselves before each strategic decision: “What do our customers need most?”

Understanding how we can simplify and solve the most complex challenges in the logistics industry is what motivates us, and has been the backbone of our strategy at Gatik since Day 1. When we started the company, we wanted to develop an autonomous solution that would address real world problems, and it quickly became apparent that the retail industry — forced to be progressively dynamic as a result of changing consumer behavior — was struggling to address the on-demand and costly nature of short-haul logistics. A recurring theme that is as prominent today as it was in those early customer conversations is sustainability. With consumer expectations for real-time access to goods increasing faster than the most bullish predictions, there has been an influx of freight-moving vehicles added to our roads. This has made sustainability both a collective challenge, and a collective responsibility, for leaders in the logistics industry to contend with.

Today we announced how we’re playing our part in a more sustainable logistics space, with the deployment of our Electric Autonomous Box Trucks. These new vehicles are designed with an all-electric powertrain, boast a range of 120 miles and can reach full charge in less than 1.5 hours. They’re an energy-efficient autonomous solution to optimize freight movement on the middle mile, reduce some of the 2,200 Million Metric Tons of CO2 emissions unleashed each year by North America’s transportation sector, and help deliver on the promise of sustainability today.

What became abundantly clear in discussions with our customers is that electrification and short-haul logistics are ideally suited for each other, thanks to the distances and vehicle class involved. Compared to long-haul trucking, where the trade-offs between battery range and route length pose significant obstacles to success, operations on the middle mile involve multiple journeys per day on relatively short distances. This means our Electric Autonomous Box Trucks can charge while they’re being loaded and unloaded, allowing for uninterrupted service. The solution offers significant emissions reductions and dramatic savings on fuel and powertrain maintenance costs. These savings can, in turn, be passed on to consumers — contributing to a sustainable logistics ecosystem that connects service provider, customer and consumer.

Electrification is a dynamic field, but we’re seeing particularly exciting advancements in the short-haul space. There are a number of exciting class 3–6 EVs coming to market in the next 1–2 years which can be autonomous enabled. Being platform agnostic we’re able to work with multiple OEMs, a few of whom we are already in advanced discussions with. For now, as always, we’re listening to our customers who are requesting electric solutions today — so we’ve deployed a product to meet these immediate needs. Our first Electric Autonomous Box Trucks commence operations with Walmart in Louisiana this month, delivering goods from a Walmart Supercentre in New Orleans to a pick-up point in Metairie, Louisiana. The new service unlocks the opportunity for customers who live further away from Walmart’s store in New Orleans to benefit from the convenience and ease of Walmart’s pickup service — with all the benefits electrification brings.

At a macro level, the new Federal administration will be accelerating the rate of adoption through dedicated spending and various incentives focusing on EVs. We’ll start to see increasingly ambitious emissions reduction targets across all sectors. Our Electric Autonomous Box Trucks are capable of delivering anything from groceries to pharmaceuticals, and automotive parts to consumer electronics, so we’re looking forward to helping customers meet their corporate sustainability and reduced emissions goals.

For us, it’s all about playing our part, listening to our customers needs, and making sure we deliver.

Interested in joining our fast-growing and highly execution-oriented team? Check out open positions at http://www.gatik.ai/careers. Follow us on Twitter, LinkedIn and Medium.