Nikola & Allison Collaborate on Next-Gen Electric Semi

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It looks like the wild world of over-the-road trucking is about to get a little bit wilder. Allison Transmission, the power transmission gearheads who’ve been keeping truckers downshifting for decades, have teamed up with none other than Nikola, the once-controversial outfit that’s been putting controversy behind it by delivering a small but steady stream of all-electric semis to real customers for a little over a year. Together, they’re gonna be putting their Class 8 battery-electric and hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles through the wringer at Allison’s state-of-the-art testing center in an effort to see what kind of madness they can cook up together.

It seems like the guys at Allison are just as excited about the new project as I am. “We’re proud to collaborate with Nikola as they develop innovative, next-generation vehicles designed to reduce emissions and optimize performance,” said David Proctor, General Manager, Allison Vehicle Electrification + Environmental Test Center. “Our facility has the capabilities to support external customer test and validation programs for vehicles powered by every major propulsion type, which reinforces Allison’s commitment to taking a leadership role in the development of alternative fuel options for the commercial vehicle industry.”

The two companies will be testing BEV and hydrogen fuel cell (HFCEV) performance limits using controlled thermal environments and road simulations covering a wide range of duty cycles.

The tests made use of Nikola’s hydrogen refueling equipment to provide a nearly constant flow of hydrogen, powering the truck’s electric motors and dramatically reducing the time needed to conduct the tests by eliminating the need to stop and recharge the BEV trucks’ massive 733 kWh battery packs.

Giant Batteries in the BEV Semi

Nikola Tre. Image courtesy of Nikola Motor.

Allison’s evaluation of the electric powertrain in the Nikola included monitoring battery management and HVAC systems testing, which leveraged Allison’s unique testing environment to replicate the sort of extreme operating temperatures likely to be faced by over-the-road semi drivers in the real world.

“Leveraging the capabilities of Allison’s VE+ET Center has been a key enabler for Nikola to accelerate our product development cycle and confidently bring to market our Tre BEV early last year,” said Nikola Head of Vehicle Validation Adam Tarleton. “We are looking forward to continued collaboration with Allison on our Tre FCEV product to deliver an industry leading, best-in-class hydrogen FCEV with the performance, quality and reliability the commercial truck segment demands.”

Allison’s 60,000-square-foot test facility is the only one of its kind in the Midwest, and offers the company the ability to conduct “year-round” testing in one controlled location. The program with Nikola is expected to breed a new, heavy-duty transmission for the brand’s next-generation electric and HFC trucks.

Sources | Images: Allison, Nikola.

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