Nikola Motor Company is an enigma. The company has been a Tesla wannabe since day one, but has never pushed any actual product out the door. Its primary claim to fame is a battery electric tractor trailer that may or may not incorporate hydrogen fuel cell technology, but it also announced in February it is working on an electric pickup truck it calls Badger that will come in two versions — one with a 160 kWh battery and the other with a 120 kWh battery that also has a hydrogen fuel cell range extender.
Trevor Milton, founder and CEO of Nikola, announced on Twitter this week that the company will accept pre-orders for the Badger beginning June 29. No details were given — like how much of a deposit is required or when the truck will be available or even where it will be manufactured. Those who pre-order, however, will get free tickets to Nikola World 2020, which may or may not be held in Phoenix in September or some other month.
Here’s what we know about the Nikola Badger (other than it should be very popular with people who live in Wisconsin). The folks at Autoblog have run some numbers and determined the Badger is 1.5 inches wider and 4 inches longer than a Ford F-150 Lariat with an 8-foot bed. The Badger, however, has only a 5-foot bed.
In a conversation with TechCrunch, Milton said, “We went directly after the Ford F-150 market and it’ll be a direct competitor to the Tesla Cybertruck as well. The Rivian is a small truck like a Toyota Tacoma and will not compete in the construction world nor the Ford F-150, bigger pickup market that’s focused on home businesses, construction and things like that. The Rivian is more of a consumer model that is used for outdoor recreational activities.”
On Instagram, Nikola said the Badger would be priced from $60,000 to $90,000. Compare that to the $39,000 Tesla Cybertruck, $52,000 Lordstown Motors Endurance, $69,000 Rivian R1T, and $125,000 Bollinger B1.
The battery-only version with a 160 kWh battery is said to have a range of 300 miles, while the 120 kWh battery with fuel cell range extender unit can go 600 miles (good luck finding a hydrogen filling station along the way). Two 455-horsepower electric motors crank out 908 pound-feet of torque and propel the truck to 60 mph in 2.9 seconds (allegedly). According to Car and Driver, buyers of the battery-only model can add the hydrogen fuel cell later. The company says the Badger can tow 8,000 pounds and comes with a 15 kW on-board power supply that can run equipment “for approximately 12 hours without a generator.”
The company has no factory as of yet, but plans to start building one in C0olidge, Arizona later this year. Until then, Milton says, “Badger will be built in conjunction with another OEM utilizing their certified parts and manufacturing facilities.” No hints about what that other company might be. In fact, everything Nikola does is light on details. That hasn’t stopped investors from bidding up the price of the company’s stock recently. The company — which has never produced anything but press releases — is now valued at more than Ford Motor Company.
The one thing the company seems to have going for it is an agreement with IVECO to put a battery and/or fuel cell powered truck on sale in Europe soon. IVECO is owned by the Agnelli family, which also has a major stake in Fiat Chrysler. That may offer a hint about where the first Badger trucks will be manufactured.
As things stand at the moment, the Nikola Badger should be ready for sale sometime in 2022, so if you want an electric pickup that is longer than an F-150, can tow 8,000 pounds, and has a secret refrigerator built in, you only have to patient for another 24 months, more or less.