Nikola Motor’s hydrogen-powered semi-trailer truck is highly appealing with its many advancements but don’t expect it to arrive in the near future. In November 2016, Toyota announced the possibility of applying hydrogen technology to semi-trailers, so such trucks might come soon. But while Toyota is still conducting a California-based feasibility and exploration study, Utah-based Nikola Motor Company has already unveiled a hydrogen-powered semi-trailer truck that could put current conventional trucks on the road to shame.
Nikola Motors is proud to unveil its Nikola One hydrogen-powered semi-trailer truck, which employs a full electric drivetrain as powered by high-density lithium battery pack with 320-kWh of capacity. This large high-capacity battery pack gets its juice from hydrogen fuel cells. Its electric drivetrain could provide more than a thousand ponies and around 2,000 ft. lbs. (2,711 Nm) of torque – which is nearly double the amount that conventional semi-trailer trucks could provide with the powerful diesel engines.
This means that Nikola One could haul heavier loads as needed. In addition, Nikola One’s fuel cell-powered battery pack – a massive one – could contain enough energy to allow the green yet mean semi trailer truck to travel between 800 miles and 1,200 miles (1,287 to 1,931 kilometers), depending on the battery specs and the size of the hydrogen tank. This means that the Nikola One semi-trailer truck is very suitable for long-haul operations, effectively getting rid of the so-called range anxiety common with electrified vehicles. This hydrogen tank can be filled up at any of the planned 364 stations across the United and Canada. These hydrogen refilling stations will be built starting 2018.
Trevor Milton, founder and chief executive of Nikola Motor Company, disclosed that Nikola One is estimated to return 15.4 MPGe (miles per gallon equivalent), which makes it the most fuel efficient class 8 truck, which comprises those with gross vehicle weight rating exceeding 33,000 lbs. (14,969 kg). This remarkable efficiency – nearly twice as efficient as a conventional diesel-powered semi trailer – could also be attributed to the fact Nikola is also around 2,000 lbs (907 kg) lighter. The best thing about Nikola is that – unlike conventional semi trailer trucks – it emits no harmful emissions like carbon dioxide.
Nikola One will be available for lease of 72 months for between $5,000 and $7,000 a month, and that amount already includes unlimited hydrogen fuel, warranty and scheduled maintenance. According to Nikola Motor, reservations for Nikola have already reached nearly three billion dollars in future orders.
For now, Nikola Motor has no manufacturing facility for assembling the Nikola One. Since the initial batch of Nikola One is due for delivery in 2020, Nikola Motor is partnering with Fitzgerald to assemble the first 5,000 hydrogen-powered semi-trailer trucks. However, Nikola Motor is actively seeking a suitable location for its own manufacturing facility and is currently in talks with several states over the matter.
Nikola Motor intends to decide on the location of its manufacturing facility in the first half of 2017. Once operations at the facility hits full swing, Nikola Motor expects to build 50,000 Nikola One units annually. Nikola Motor is currently working on the development of its Nikola Two, a more affordable version of Nikola One.
Now, let us see how Toyota would play its cards in this game of hydrogen-powered semi trailer trucks.