In June 2023, Volvo Autonomous Solutions announced they have expanded their North American footprint by opening an office in Fort Worth. The purpose of the office is to facilitate their planned autonomous shipping routes from Dallas to El Paso and Dallas to Houston. In the mean time, they will be operating non-driverless (driven?) operations for customers including DHL and Uber Freight.
The Swedish company's decision to move to The Metroplex makes sense for a few reasons. Contrary to what DFW traffic would imply, the intercity corridors are heavily trafficked by trucks without having intense traffic (most of the time). The Metroplex's status as a logistics/industrial hub also ensures that there will be a constant demand for freight transit. Lastly, Texas' size offers the convenience of having long drives without worrying about different states' regulations regarding autonomous vehicles.
Nils Jaeger, President of Volvo Autonomous Solutions, spoke to the strategy:
At Volvo Autonomous Solutions we believe the path to autonomy at scale is through reducing the friction and complications around ownership and operations for customers. This is why we have taken the decision to be the single interface to our customers and take full ownership of the elements required for commercial autonomous transport. With the opening of our office in Texas and start of operational activities, we are building the foundations for a transport solution that will change the way we move goods on highways.
Sasko Cuklev, head of On-Road Solutions for Volvo Autonomous Solutions, highlighted the benefits of autonomous long haul trucking:
Through our Autonomous Transport Solution, our ambition is to create a new source of industry capacity that will ease some of the burden of the increasing demand for freight while also enabling local drivers to shift into short-haul jobs that will keep them closer to home. This will unlock significant efficiencies in the entire supply chain and benefit everyone in the transportation industry.
It seems as if every week there are more companies setting up industrial and office operations in The Metroplex, with Fort Worth being the primary industrial powerhouse. The central geographic location combined with excellent infrastructure in the form of rail, highway, and air arteries complement the pro-business environment to make DFW a top contender for any company's expansions (or relocations!).
Industrial real estate investors should give extra thought toward the practicality of their assets for autonomous trucking. Today, old warehouses with low ceilings are obsolete as industrial assets (restaurateurs love the aesthetic, though). Investors should always be focused on innovations in their sectors, lest their assets fall victim to economic obsolescence.