The Tesla Among Trucks

Unveiling event, © Nikola

On Dec. 1, 2016, Nikola Motor Company presented its first hydrogen truck. Founder and CEO Trevor Milton unveiled the Nikola One in front of 600 invited guests at the company’s headquarters in Salt Lake City, Utah. The truck is a concept study of an electric semi equipped with a large lithium-ion battery pack and a fuel cell.

The hydrogen vehicle shown by NMC, of which the American business was convinced it could mark the beginning of the “end of diesel engines,” is reported to have an output of 735 kW or 1,000 hp. Its range is said to be around 1,500 kilometers, whereas refueling would take 15 minutes only. The battery pack of the truck consists of 32,000 individual cells and is reportedly able to store 320 kWh to drive an 800-volt AC engine. Further details about tank size, the type of fuel cell used or development partners have not been made available yet. The only other two things that were revealed was the fuel cell’s output – 300 kW – and the fact that it charges the battery during the ride.

Milton said: “Nikola will build a world-class advanced manufacturing facility, which will create thousands of new jobs.” Where the factory will be built will reportedly be announced in the first half of 2017. Sales as well as repair and maintenance services are said to rest on the shoulders of business partner Ryder System, which boasts more than 800 service locations across North America.

NMC also presented utility vehicle Nikola Zero, which has a 107 kWh battery pack and provides a range of 500 kilometers or almost 311 miles. Milton was convinced that “our lithium battery packs, which should be available next year, are more energy dense and weigh less than any vehicle production pack in the world. To give you an idea, we believe our pack could propel a BMW i3 over 400 miles on a single charge and still fit within the i3 chassis.”

Similarities to Tesla

What’s interesting about all of this is that there seem to be some similarities between electric truck manufacturer Nikola and electric car producer Tesla. First, both businesses use part of the name of electric engineer and inventor Nikola Tesla. Second, both Elon Musk and Trevor Milton have built a reputation for being innovative and dynamic visionaries. And they both appeal to customers by advertising free electricity or hydrogen. For example, one of the announcements Milton made was that Nikola would set up 300 hydrogen filling stations from 2018 in the United States and Canada (“Nikola will have the largest hydrogen network in the world.”). It is said that – similar to Tesla’s Model 3 – there have already been numerous reservations for the Nikola One. The contract value is reported to be USD 3 billion, although no price has been set for the H2 truck (advance payment: USD 1,500). Manufacturing, however, seems to start no earlier than 2020 anyway.

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