Nikola Motor unveils prototype Class 8 fuel cell range-extended electric truck, plans for H2 fueling network
At an event at its Salt Lake City headquarters last week, startup Nikola Motor Company (NMC) unveiled the first public prototype of its Nikola One Class 8 hydrogen fuel cell range-extended electric truck, as well as renderings of the Nikola Two Class 8 day cab version. The company also announced its plan for a network of 364 hydrogen fueling stations across the US and Canada (Nikola is bundling fuel with the truck), and unveiled a 107 kWh battery pack for the Nikola Zero UTV along with a business plan to sell packs to OEMs.
The Nikola One utilizes a fully electric drivetrain featuring a 320 kWh Li-ion battery pack (32,000 cells) and a nearly 300 kW fuel cell stack powering a 6x4 four-wheel electric drive (four 800V AC motors) with torque vectoring. Delivering more than 1,000 hp (746 kW) and 2,000 lb-ft of torque, the Nikola One will have an expected range of 800-1,200 miles, the company said.
The specs of the Nikola One have changed since first announced in May 2016. At that time, although the 320 kWh battery pack was the same, the company envisioned using a proprietary onboard 400 kW gas turbine as well as a 335 hp electric motor with dual gear reduction at every wheel (6x6). That powertrain was estimated to output more than 2,000 hp (1,491 kW) and more than 3,700 lb-ft (5,017 N·m) of torque before gear reduction.
|NMC’s calculations on the fuel efficiency of the Nikola One.|
The Nikola One will only be available through the Nikola Complete Leasing Program. There will be no purchase options available initially. The lease is $5,000 - $7,000 per month and includes unlimited miles, unlimited fuel, warranty and scheduled maintenance for the first 1,000,000 miles or 7 years, whichever comes first. Nikola Motor Company has accepted reservations ($1,500 per reservation) representing nearly a projected $3 billion in future orders.
NMC plans to begin delivering trucks in approximately 3-4 years based on the current timeline.
Fitzgerald, an investor in NMC, will build the first 5,000 trucks, and continue building trucks in the future. Over the next 4-5 years, NMC plans to invest more than $1 billion in its own manufacturing facility. The location will be announced sometime around the middle of 2017.
Nikola Founder and CEO Trevor Milton said that the company will build a network of 364 hydrogen fueling stations to support the rollout of the trucks. Hydrogen fuel is free for Nikola customers for one million miles. Construction of the stations will begin in 2019, beginning with fleets that order the trucks.
NMC is in the process of developing multiple 100-megawatt solar farms to produce hydrogen via electrolysis. The hydrogen will be transported from the Nikola solar farms to the Nikola hydrogen stations by a fleet of Nikola One trucks. The hydrogen is stored at Nikola stations in liquid form, and then dispensed into vehicles as compressed or liquid hydrogen.
Nikola says that all non-Nikola vehicles can fill up at any Nikola Hydrogen Station for $3.50 per kg of hydrogen.
NMC also announced Ryder System, Inc. as its exclusive nationwide distribution and maintenance provider. Ryder has a network of over 800 service locations in North America today. In addition to Ryder System’s national coverage, Thompson Machinery, a Caterpillar dealer and an early investor in Nikola Motor Company, will also offer sales and service in Tennessee and Mississippi.
Milton also announced Nikola Shipments—advanced freight scheduling software that will come standard with every Nikola One and Nikola Two vehicle. A driver can simply input departure and arrival locations and times and the Nikola Shipments software will provide all available shipments, Nikola Hydrogen Stations and Nikola Service Centers located along the route. The driver can then filter the available shipments by value and added time, and then add them to their route, all from the 21" in-cab touchscreen display.
For the Nikola UTV, the 107 kWh battery pack is estimated to provide more than 300 miles of range on a single charge. Milton said that Nikola plans to offer its patent pending battery packs to OEMs for purchase beginning in 2017.
Our battery engineers have made major advances in storage and cooling. We believe our lithium battery packs are more energy dense and weigh less than any available vehicle production pack per kWh.—Trevor Milton