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Nikola and Bosch partner on hydrogen-electric Class-8 long-haul truck; dual-motor commercial-vehicle eAxle

19 September 2017

Nikola Motor Company is partnering with Bosch on the development of its hydrogen-fuel-cell range-extended electric Class 8 long-haul truck, unveiled as a prototype in December 2016. (Earlier post.)

By 2021, Nikola intends to bring to market the Nikola One and Two, a class 8 hydrogen-electric truck lineup that will deliver more than 1,000 horsepower and 2,000 lb-ft (2,712 N·m) of torque—nearly double the horsepower of any semi-truck on the road—all with zero tailpipe emissions, as previously announced by Nikola.

Nikola_Two_Bosch_PR
2021 Nikola Two Day Cab. Click to enlarge.

At the heart of the Nikola truck lineup is a new commercial vehicle powertrain achieved thanks to a development partnership between Nikola and Bosch. The organizations re-imagined the powertrain from the ground up. Bosch’s eAxle expertise (earlier post) has enabled Nikola to move quickly on an aggressive path to bring its electric truck to market.

The eAxle developed by Bosch is a scalable, modular platform with the motor, power electronics and transmission in one compact unit. This makes it suitable for vehicles of all kinds, from small passenger cars to light trucks. Nikola and Bosch will use this know-how to commercialize the world’s first true dual-motor commercial-vehicle eAxle for a long-haul truck.

The eAxle will use proven commercial vehicle electric machine technology and SMG (separate motor generator) motors from Bosch, and will realize what the partners call “unprecedented” targets for e-machine efficiency.

The eAxles will be paired with a custom-designed fuel cell system—also being developed jointly between Nikola and Bosch—designed to deliver benchmark vehicle range. The overall vehicle controls will also be jointly developed based upon Bosch’s vehicle control software and hardware. The Nikola Bosch zero local emission powertrain is designed to achieve segment-leading performance at a competitive total cost of ownership to traditional powertrains.

Bosch and Nikola will also jointly develop the overall powertrain system for the Nikola lineup, which will include the safety concept and vehicle electrical architecture.

September 19, 2017 in Electric (Battery), Fuel Cells, Heavy-duty, Hydrogen | Permalink | Comments (6)

Comments

If this up-to-date hydrogen FC Nikola truck is mass produced in EU, USA and China (and many other countries) it could have a major effect on pollution and GJHG created by heavy trucks and buses.

Secondly, it could contribute to the installation of many more H2 stations and much lower cost H2 with 5 years or so promoting the sales of many million FCEVs

I had very little confidence in the Nikola One concept, which uses a whacking great battery as well as fuel cells, thinking it would likely eat into the load space too greatly and it was another loose money capital destroying piece of Californiana, but Bosch participation certainly adds at least a degree of credibility,

The N1 and N2 both are intended to have 320 kWh of batteries which presumably would yield an AER of 250-350 km per charge. These aren't planned o be available until 2021. In order for these to be driven much beyond their electric range the cost of H2 will need to come down considerably. TCO is a big deal in the trucking industry. If it is true that 30% of trucking is less than 200 miles then there will be a bigger market for short range trucks than their production capacity. There will of course be competition. We'll see what info Tesla makes available on Oct. 26 Re: their offering.

Nikola has announced plans to build 364 H2 stations but they'll need to raise a lot more capital to finance those ambitions.

One thing I see absent from Nikola's press releases and I expect Tesla will leverage is AV technology. I could see Tesla planning on having a lead vehicle followed by a convoy of driverless drone vehicles wirelessly tethered to the lead thereby reducing the cost component of the driver. It could be a significant advantage.

The initial cost of these vehicles will be high relative to the incumbent diesels so they will make the most financial sense to those who can maximize their utilization. Multiple shifts of drivers per vehicle would make sense.

Maybe Trevor Milton, CEO of Nikola Motor should rethink the H2 Fuel Cell like he did the NG Gas Turbine Truck. Why have a 1000 mile range when a long haul trucker drives 600 - 700 miles a day (USA Regulations only allow 11 hours of driving in a 14 hour period).
To cover that daily range requires 1000 kWh which would weigh 5-6000 kg (Nikola claims to have a 107 kWh battery that weighs 1000 lbs or 454 kg).
However, long haul truck drivers need to take breaks in their daily routine so a fast charger (up to 350 kW) would reduce the need for a single charge per day, possibly reducing the battery size to less than 500 kWh, e.g. 450 kWh. This size is only 130 kWh larger than the current battery planned and would fit where the fuel cell is located.
The 364 H2 stations would be replaced by 350 kW Charging stations. A truck driver's 2 hours of breaks would add 700 kW energy to the 450 kWh battery giving adequate range before overnight charging at a slower rate (reference: http://blog.caranddriver.com/first-u-s-350-kw-charging-station-will-allow-speedy-l-a-vegas-ev-road-trips/).

There are truckers out there who drive in teams. One sleeps while the other drives and it is quite common. Hence, 1000 miles is not unreasonable given that there is no long overnight stop.

There is also the big question mark over the life of a battery when used in a tractor trailer that undergoes daily fast charging. Remember that 500,000 miles is the lower limit on expected mileage for a semi truck diesel with many easily exceeding 1,000,000 miles.

Smaller trucks are rather shorter trip units and could run smaller battery pack.

Extended range larger trucks could effectively go up to 1000 miles on the proper battery/FC combination.

Those trucks extended range trucks could be operated (driven) like Planes where pilots are changed every XX hours and the trucks would carry on with another driver, going 24/7.

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