Many products are only used occasionally. Husqvarna Battery Box is a new sharing service where homeowners can rent electric gardening tools when they need them, using an app. The tools are picked up from an unmanned, connected tool shed placed in the neighbourhood.

Many people find joy in gardening, a hobby that can provide relaxation as well as healthy home-grown vegetables. Judging by the amound of gardening books and tv shows, it is a favourite pastime in many countries, not least in the UK and in Sweden.

There is an obvious risk that gardening ends up being a jungle of technology; there is an abundance of tools, machines and products available. Many of these are eventually used for only a couple of hours or even minutes per year. Wouldn’t it be more rational to share them with others? Husqvarna now moves into the sharing economy with a new initiative, making tools available for rent for shorter periods of time.

The hedge trimmer is not needed very often

Husqvarna is launching a sharing economy pilot project for garden owners. The Husqvarna Battery Box contains 30 battery powered garden tools available for rent via an app. Photo: Husqvarna.

The sharing economy is a concept that has emerged in later years, but throughout history, humans have pooled resources and traded services with eachother. The growing interest in the sharing economy is partly due to environmental awareness, but digitalization is also an important driver, making it less of a hassle to use and offer sharing services.

Research conducted by Ipsos on behalf of Danske Bank in 2016, revealed that the sharing economy was not a well known concept in Sweden. Nevertheless, many had used sharing services such as Airbnb, and many would consider sharing books and tools. Fewer would share sports equipment, cars and homes, and not many where interested in a sharing economy for clothes. Another result was that the sharing economy is growing, especially among young people.

Husqvarna is moving into the sharing economy with their new Husqvarna Battery Box service, and homeowners in Western Stockholm will be the first ones to try it. The Battery Box is a tool shed stocked with battery powered garden tools, made available to an entire neighbourhood thanks to Internet of Things technology.

”The sharing economy is already established for cars and homes. To share products that are only used occasionally, like a hedge-trimmer, makes a lot of sense for many homeowners. Husqvarna Battery Box is proof of our commitment to explore new solutions that merge innovation and sustainability, benefitting the homeowner, the community and our distribution network,” says Pavel Hajman, President of the Husqvarna division.

Husqvarna Battery Box

An app is used to book and pay for the tool. It also contains instructions for the tools. Photo: Husqvarna.

The Husqvarna Battery Box is an 8×3 meter, unattended, solar powered container with 30 electronic lockers that store garden care products such as hedge trimmers, chainsaws and blowers. Via an iPhone app, homeowners can reserve tools, get instructions, pay, and open the locker to pick up their pre-booked power tool.

The battery powered tools are serviced and cleaned by Husqvarna on a daily basis, to make sure that they always are fully charged and in good condition when they are picked up. The customers communicate with the Husqvarna Battery Box via Bluetooth, and Bank-ID is used for identification. At the end of the month, the customer’s registered credit card is charged with the accumulated rental cost.

”This pilot project supports Husqvarna’s sustainability agenda to drive the conversion from petrol powered products to silent battery products with no direct emissions in urban areas. Additionally, the purpose is also to test the real-world applications of this technical solution, as well as collect insights on market maturity, customer behaviour, and potential future revenue streams for Husqvarna’s distribution network. We want to find out whether the market is ready for this kind of service. Perhaps, some people are happy to rent their tools, while others try them out before deciding to buy them”, Pavel Hajman says.

Partner ecosystem

Husqvarna Battery Box is the result of a partner ecosystem where Telenor Connexion provides the communication and cloud solution bringing on board its partners Flex, Zuora and HiQ. Flex builds the connected box and reports its status on events handled through the cloud solution with Telenor Connexion. Zuora supplies the subscription payment solution and HiQ builds the app and the system needed to bring everything together. The shopping center Bromma Blocks provides the space for the test.

”We are an important part of the project. HiQ has built the app and the systems that are needed to bring it all together. Our company operates in the borderland between technology, human and business, and creates smart solutions that make life easier”, says Patrik Sahlsten, Sales & Business Development Director at HiQ in Gothenburg.

”Digitalization is rapidly transforming the world. The technology is changing the way we think, live, consume and interact with each other. It gives us new possibilities, new approaches and new solutions to make our daily lives easier. Environmental awareness, sustainability, the sharing economy and mobility are concepts that make us see consumtion from a different perspective. That is why this project is so timely; it benefits consumers and reduces environmental impact”, Patrik says.

The article was published in June 2017.