The Nikola Corporation is making a push into the EU with partner trucking company IVECO after the pair showed off the design model of the battery electric version of the Nikola TRE for European customers. Launching the battery electric Nikola TRE gives Nikola a bridge to the hydrogen-powered future the team envisions as the reality of the investment and lead time required for hydrogen to manifest in the global transportation marketplace are realized.
Leveraging An Existing Force In Trucking
The TRE is based on the new to market IVECO S-Way and carries forward many of the same design queues, but with Nikola badging. “The IVECO S-WAY is a stand-out product, which embodies IVECO’s concept of customer-centricity and has already gained momentum in the markets with well-deserved success,” Gerrit Marx, President Commercial and Specialty Vehicles at IVECO said. “It is the bones of the Nikola TRE and marks the beginning of a new journey towards zero-emissions trucking, providing the platform for us to introduce disruptive features that will change the transport industry.”
Having teased both customers in the US and now in the EU with the model of the TRE, the new battery electric TRE will officially launch in September 2020 at the IAA commercial vehicle exhibition in Hannover, Germany. Shipments of the battery electric TRE to the first customers will commence in 2021 with the hydrogen fuel cell powered version expected in 2023.
Batteries Today, Hydrogen Tomorrow
The official specs for the BEV configuration of the Nikola TRE have it using a maximum of 720 kWh batteries on board that will deliver 400 kilometers / 250 miles of range per charge. The electric motors will put out a combined 480 kW of continuous power output and up to 1,800 Nm of torque. The battery capacity can be tuned based on customer needs to balance the range needed with the best up-front purchase price.
On the hydrogen side of things, more work is clearly needed, but Nikola’s CEO Trevor Milton shared in the presentation that it will have a hydrogen storage capacity of around 60 to 80 kilograms with a range that surpasses that of the battery electric version.
As a platform, the TRE will be available in 2- and 3-axle rigid configurations to support a GVW of anywhere from 18 to 26 tonnes. If Nikola can deliver on these stats, the TRE will be a serious contender in the EU in both configurations when it hits the market. The fuel cell version is of course highly dependent on the corresponding build-out of Nikola and hydrogen partner Nel’s hydrogen production and fueling station network in the EU.
Nikola and IVECO are developing the battery electric TRE with the fuel cell version in mind for the future. Both will have a significant lithium-ion battery pack, the fuel cell version will simply have a smaller lithium battery with the bulk of the energy storage on board being held as hydrogen. The two partners are designing the vehicle up front with the future in mind to maximize reusability of the design for the fuel cell version.
It is a smart move that highlights how the partners are both looking at solutions for today with an eye to the future. It is similar to Tesla’s approach to the design of the platform shared by the Model 3 and the Model Y, which have around 76% shared DNA. Doing this keeps costs down and maximizes the value that can be extracted from the shared platform.
A Digital Future
On the inside of the vehicle, Nikola’s infotainment and navigation technology will be put on display in the new TRE. The unified operating system will also control the bulk of the vehicle’s core systems like climate control, navigation, vehicle settings, diagnostics, service, and the like.
The in-car experience in passenger vehicles has evolved significantly in recent years as flat touchscreens are increasingly tapped to replace physical radios, buttons, and knobs. In the TRE, Nikola plans to leverage Bluetooth low energy (LE) to connect to the customer’s phone for a number of functions including keyless entry. Eliminating the physical key has the potential to help fleet managers leapfrog old technologies straight into the digital realm, with a comprehensive smartphone-based digital management solution.
To learn more about the partnership between Nikola and IVECO, dive into the launch video below from the event yesterday in Turin, Italy.