Nikola Motor Company Unveiling — Details On “Zero Emissions” Semi Truck

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The Nikola Motor Company held an unveiling event last night for its zero emissions semi truck concept, the Nikola One — a hydrogen fuel-cell/battery-electric hybrid that will reportedly feature 1,200 miles of range; 1,000 horsepower; and 2,000 lb-feet of torque.


There were a number of things notable that are worth discussing here, even if the future and viability of the startup will probably remain an open question for a long time still. To start things off, it should probably be noted that the CEO, Trevor Milton, closed things off with this statement: “This truck will come to market, I promise you that.”

Well, we’ll see. The company’s plans are interesting, though, and seem to have involved some thought.

Notably, the unveiling event didn’t feature any demonstration of the truck itself, so presumably what was on display wasn’t a working prototype.

Here are several key points made during the unveiling:

  • the Nikola One will be around 2,000 pounds lighter in weight than a “traditional” semi;
  • the purchase and lease prices will reportedly include 1 million miles worth of free hydrogen fuel;
  • the company will be making, condensing, and transporting this fuel itself;
  • the short nose of the cab will give drivers a better view;
  • the thin A-pillars will improve visibility as well;
  • the cab door is located in the middle rather than on the sides.

Autoblog (which had someone onsite) provides more: “The on-board hydrogen fuel cell will feed energy into 320-kWh lithium battery built into the frame rail that will power the truck’s electric motors. … By getting rid of the diesel powertrain, the Nikola One will also eliminate the need for much of the maintenance that is currently required for semi trucks, from oil changes to DEF refills. … Milton said that the Nikola One will get the equivalent of 15.4 miles per gallon, which is around double the average diesel semi.”

A few final points:

  • The unveiling event in Salt Lake City also revealed that, as Nikola doesn’t have its own manufacturing facilities yet, it will be partnering with Fitzgerald for production of the first 5,000 semi trucks.
  • These first trucks are currently slated to be delivered in 2020.
  • Plans are in the works for a dedicated production facility, according to Milton — with an announcement relating to the planned $1 billion facility set for mid-2017 according to the CEO. This planned facility will allow for production of 50,000 semis once at full capacity, Milton said.

The company also plans to rearrange the current dispatch paradigm, in addition to fuel sourcing, with a software-controlled dispatch logistics service known as Nikola Shipments apparently being in the works. It is intended to directly connect drivers with those requesting deliveries.

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James Ayre

James Ayre's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy.

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