Embark Trucks has partnered with a real estate investment company to help identify and launch “transfer point” sites across the U.S. Sunbelt, enabling new autonomous trucking lanes as Embark prepares for commercial deployment of its technology in 2024.
In 2019, Embark pioneered the transfer point model, where freight would move from autonomous long-haul trucks to driver-enabled trucks for first- and last-mile delivery, and opened the industry’s first transfer point. By September 2021, Embark announced a plan to launch up to 100 transfer points across the U.S., working with Ryder to provide onsite operations, maintenance, and fleet management in support of seamless coast-to-coast autonomous truck operations.
Through this partnership with Alterra Property Group, Embark will look to access the real estate it needs to activate a nationwide transfer point network and execute against its long-term commercialization goals.
Alterra specializes in industrial outdoor storage properties that can accommodate vehicle and trailer parking, and will identify, purchase, and lease sites optimally sized and located for transfer points. The company currently owns a nationwide real estate portfolio with over 100 properties located across 27 states. This portfolio will substantially expand through Alterra’s fully discretionary private equity fund that is currently investing nationally with capacity up to $1.5 billion, Embark officials said in a press release.
Alterra plans to deploy new and existing funding to acquire dozens of autonomous-vehicle-ready sites in major markets like Los Angeles, Dallas, and Atlanta, that could be utilized by Embark and its carrier partners over the next several years.
“Industrial outdoor storage as an asset class has yet to be institutionalized, making it difficult for tenants with specific and nationwide real estate needs, like Embark, to systematically access a network of suitable sites,” said Leo Addimando, managing partner of Alterra. “As a leader in this asset class on our way to accumulating a multi-billion dollar portfolio, we have the ability to provide Embark a strategic advantage when it comes to identifying, securing, and developing a nationwide network of autonomous-ready sites.”
In the short term, Embark and Alterra intend to identify standardized, turn-key sites that provide Embark the ability to quickly scale up at a particular site with minimal lead time or development costs. Over time, Embark and Alterra will investigate more creative physical and economic structures, such as allowing Embark to grow across a site over time or allowing Alterra to participate in the economic upside of onsite activity through per-use price structures.