Functional Nikola One Prototype To Be Unveiled This December

8 months ago by Eric Loveday 38

Nikola One Electric Truck

Nikola One Electric Truck

Nikola One

Nikola One

Following the announcement that Tesla is in the development phase of an electric semi truck, Nikola decided it was time to up its game by stating that it will beat Tesla to the punch by unveiling a fully functional prototype “electric” semi this December.

Called the Nikola One and originally unveiled back in May 2016, this “electric”truck is actually a CNG-electric Class 8 commercial semi truck.

As Green Car Reports states:

“The company, which had operated in stealth mode before April, now claims it has achieved “100 percent zero emissions” on its prototype, without providing specific test details.”

“Founder and CEO Trevor Milton said that Nikola had achieved “the Holy Grail” of the trucking industry: “a zero-emission truck … that can haul 80,000 pounds [for] more than 1,000 miles … without stopping.”

Nikola One

Nikola One

Just a couple of months ago, Nikola claimed that it had already received 7,000 pre-orders for its One semi truck, but the automaker continues to downplay the fact that the truck is actually a hybrid, not pure electric – despite the fact it does have the ability to plug-in and charge up.

Why should we care? Well, for starters, there are actually quite a few hybrid semis available, so Nikola is not breaking any new ground here, but more importantly, a hybrid won’t really compete with the pure electric Tesla semi.

Here are some previously released powertrain details for the Nikola One:

According to the press release, Nikola One will be capable of pulling a total gross weight of 80,000 pounds and offering up to 1,200 miles between stops.

1,200 miles is beyond the reach of any semi-truck, unless it hauls batteries instead of cargo, so Nikola opts for a 320 kWh battery and a CNG turbine, which will power a generator to power wheels/recharge batteries.

Nikola states 32,000 cells (18650) per battery pack.

On the drivetrain side, there will be 6 electric motors for AWD (6×6) with torque vectoring. Peak output stands at 2,000 hp (nearly 1,500 kW) and 3,700 ft lbs (over 5,000 Nm). Turbine offers 400 kW support to the battery.

Some newly released details for Nikola One include a lease rate of $4,000 to $5,000 per month (no word on being able to outright buy the big rig) and fuel (CNG) for the first 1 million miles is included in the price.

Hopefully we’ll get more details this Winter when Nikola unveils a functioning One in December.

Source: Green Car Reports

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38 responses to "Functional Nikola One Prototype To Be Unveiled This December"

  1. Bonaire says:

    Don’t forget this.

    https://techcrunch.com/2016/07/27/mercedes-benz-shows-off-the-first-fully-electric-heavy-urban-transport-truck/

    Long range is fine but aren’t we looking to “make the air in cities better?” Mail trucks, UPS, FedEx, DHL and more need to work to clean up the cities rather than make long-haul electric trucks which should most likely be done as EREV hybrids rather than full electric.

    1. Mikael says:

      No, the goal is to get rid of fossil fuel (and other greenhouse gases).

      Getting better air in cities is an added bonus (and one of many compelling arguments to get the masses on the bandwagon).

      Long range ZEV is more important since it’s harder to achieve, city emissions are already solved just not implemented fully yet.

      1. Terawatt says:

        There is nothing wrong with cleaning up the air in cities as well as cut GHG emissions. This is not a case where doing one detracts from the other, but rather a synergetic relationship. So let us do both.

    2. MikeG says:

      I would argue that we need to replace long-range truck transport with electrified rail transport which is more efficient per ton mile than a semi truck.

      1. TomArt says:

        Yeah, cross-country trucking is foolish. I do know that it has been declining, although the low gas prices might be slowing that down a bit. Particularly since the recession, railroads have seen large increases in demand for shipping as well as travel, because it’s cheaper/more efficient, even though a vast majority of mainline service is done with diesel locomotives.

        It’s really crazy and sad, in a way. Back around 1930, the Pennsylvania Railroad did a comprehensive study of steam, the new diesel technology, and electric motive power…everything from down time per month in maintenance, cost of the infrastructure (in the case of electric), etc., and they found that electric motive power was the most economical. Throughout the height of the Great Depression, they electrified the mainline from Harrisburg to Philadelphia and on to New York City. Later, they extended the electrification south to Washington, DC, and east to Boston.

        To this day, 80 years later, those are still the only electrified main lines in the entire USA.

        1. Terawatt says:

          So why is it, do you think, that rail doesn’t dominate the long-haul transportation sector?

          Maybe one day enough of the logistical stuff can be automated as to make rail’s Achilles heel less of an issue. But whenever enough stuff is to be delivered from A to B to fill up a semi, unless A and B are both train stations, you have to have a van and load it, transport stuff to a railway station, unload the van, load the train, move stuff, unload train, load another van, and deliver it to B. And this is the BEST case. Trains aren’t point-to-point, so in lots of cases you need to move the stuff from train 1 to train 2 to train 3 in between. All of which adds a lot of labor that today is not automated, and thus cost. This is problem for ALL goods.

          Add to this the latency added by the loading/unloading and waiting time for scheduled trains. For some goods – such as fresh food – it is often simply not a viable alternative. For many others, it would be an option if the rail was much cheaper, but due to the need to use cars of some kind (truck, van, semi, trailer) at both ends it seldom is. At cost parity you’d choose to go by road because a shorter delivery time is pretty much always an advantage (although how important it is varies a lot).

          I have never seen any analysis of this, but I would guess that rail is competetive today when A and B are really far apart AND has a train connection that doesn’t require train changes AND latency is not very important. The more of the journey handled by train and the less extra loading and unloading incurred, the more the train can use it’s energy efficiency advantage.

          1. super390 says:

            The reason electrified rail doesn’t dominate is that America redistributed its population around sprawl and highways. This put rail at a disadvantage not seen in Europe or Japan.

          2. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

            Terawatt said:

            “So why is it, do you think, that rail doesn’t dominate the long-haul transportation sector?”

            Rail did dominate for freight hauling in the USA until tax laws were changed to charge companies for inventory. That put a priority for wholesalers getting goods to the retailer ASAP so they would have fewer in-transit days for which they would be taxed for inventory. That created the ideal of the “just in time” delivery for most goods, and trucks unfortunately are far better at that type of shipping than trains.

            As you note, Terawatt, there are serious delays when shipping via rail because railroad cars full of freight tend to sit in freight yards for days. I haven’t made a study of it, but perhaps there is a lot of room for improvement if scheduling and rearranging cars into trains was modernized by using computer programs to minimize waiting time.

            Another possibility might be to redesign the entire train to transport all cargoes in containers, like container ships. That would greatly speed onloading and offloading of rail freight cars. We do see such cars as part of freight trains, but around here (Kansas City area) far too many of those have the containers only one high on the railroad car. Stacking them two high would be a far more efficient use of trains. I do see photos of some that are stacked two high, but that ought to be the rule.

            If some railway tunnels and bridges need to be rebuilt to accommodate that height, then that needs to be done. That would be a good investment in infrastructure.

        2. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

          TomArt said:

          “…a vast majority of mainline service is done with diesel locomotives.”

          Actually they are serial hybrid diesel-electric locomotives, so have been using EV drivetrains to improve fuel efficiency for decades.

          Yes, diesel-electric locomotives are EVs, which is one reason why transport via rail is so energy- and cost-efficient.

      2. SJC says:

        $700 billion in truck freight is transported every year in the U.S. we need cleaner more efficient methods.

  2. Four Electrics says:

    How can a hybrid truck be “zero emissions?”. If that’s true, sign me up for an RV with similar technology.

    1. alohart says:

      CNG can be biogas produced from renewable sources (e.g., food waste, sewage sludge, agricultural waste). So the CO2 produced by combusting CNG can be used to grow plants that can produce biogas.

      1. Mikael says:

        It’s still not zero emission and never will be. It can be (close to) carbon neutral though, just as you explained.

        The amount of renewable CNG needed would be very hard to achieve though.

        1. KumarP says:

          Yeah, this is bait and switch advertising, just like saying hydrogen is clean. Sure, if it’s derived in a way that it never is!

      2. Terawatt says:

        Even biofuel is no longer carbon neutral!

        http://www.greencarcongress.com/2016/08/20160825.html

        1. Mike I. says:

          That story is specifically about crop-based biofuels. The easiest renewable or carbon-neutral CNG is made from landfill gas, bio-methane from sewage treatment plants, or bio-methane from farm waste. Obviously, transporting the CNG or LNG by diesel truck would add to the carbon intensity, so don’t do that!

        2. Mikael says:

          Nothing is carbon neutral. Not nuclear, solar, hydro or wind either. But these along with biofuels can reduce the carbon intensity massively.

          It is very important to distinguish between different biofuels though since some barely reduce the carbon at all and some are close to 100% reduction in carbon and GHG intensity (and some are even above 100% how strange that may sound).

    2. SJC says:

      Reform renewable bio synthetic diesel like Neste Propel on the vehicle to run a fuel cell.

  3. Bill Howland says:

    I’m rather surprised at the power level since normal semi’s don’t have this much.

    As far as the 400 kw gas turbine, it will be interesting to see if someone attaches an outboard HRSG (heat recovery steam generator) and a steam turbine, to greatly increase power recovery from the burned gas.

    1. Terawatt says:

      It is one of their main selling points. This semi, fully loaded, is supposed to be able to stay at the speed limit even going up steep hills. Save time and money!

  4. scottf200 says:

    A huge need is for auto-steer and adaptive cruise control (aka assisted auto-pilot). On any highway driving it is easy to see semi-truck veering off their lane into yours or the rumble strip!

    There is no doubt the Tesla version will have this.

  5. Vexar says:

    @Bill Howland good catch on the technical details. That is an awful lot of heat from that turbine.

    I fear the vaporware aspect of this. They are still running around with screenshots. The guy’s LinkedIn profile is worth a giggle:

    https://www.linkedin.com/in/theofficialtrevormilton

    1. mustang_sallad says:

      totally agree. Even if they do show off a “functional prototype” later this year, that’s still quite a few critical steps away from a production vehicle, a chasm that many concepts fail to cross.

    2. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

      Yes, I’m rather skeptical of this company’s claims, too. But I’d still rather be a glass-half-full guy when it comes to the EV revolution.

  6. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

    “a zero-emission truck … that can haul 80,000 pounds [for] more than 1,000 miles … without stopping.”

    This makes no sense. The truck is powered by a CNG (compressed natural gas) turbine; how can that possibly be “zero-emission”? This appears to be beyond just hype; it appears to be a completely false statement.

    I wish the company success; there is a lot of room for improvement in fuel efficiency for long-range trucking, and we’re a long way from having practical long-range BEV semi tractors. But it’s very troubling that the company appears to be resorting to completely false claims. It leads me to doubt everything they claim.

  7. ModernMarvelFan says:

    CNG qualify for the same white ZEV emission sticker as Fuel Cell and BEV in California according to CARB.

    Thus, it is ZEV according to CARB.

    1. Nick says:

      White stickers are for ILEVs of which EVs are only one type.

      ILEV == Inherently low emission vehicle.

  8. Evprophet says:

    Everybody needs to remember one thing.The transports only contributes to 13% pollution/emissions.The industry is the most contributer to this fact.So don’t be fools that changing one industry for another will resolve de problem.The wolrd needs to decrease its consumption of all kind of resources (not only) , and energy.The capitalism has failed , even in america where 30% of people is poor or nearly.Only riding a ev you can not clean your conscience , and live spending the same in the other areas.The economy has to slowdown , or there will be no tomorrow for us or the next generations.

    1. Jay Cole says:

      Happy thought of the day brought to you by Evprophet…

      But if you really want the bottom line for “fixing the world” of its environmental ills, resource consumption, poverty, etc….the spending or economy is not the problem, that is just a result of the actual problem.

      Its kids. Human nature is to survive, and reproduce…it has what has gotten us here. But now we are to this height, it has slowdown. There is 7.4 billion people in the world…a more ideal number would be more like 1 billion, or less.

      You need to have 1 kid…and people hate this (especially the better off who tend to have 2+ by default..and are capable of squawking the most) because as you stated everyone wants to ” clean their conscience”.

      If you have more than 1 kid, the reality is the damage is done (as it relates to the environment and all the economic factors) that you have “hurt the world” more than the very worst polluter with 1 offspring because of the ripples in time.

      Obviously 0 would be the quickest way down, but propagation of the species, continuation of demographics/norms, etc. say that 1 is the number. Bonus of “1” is that the economic condition/quality of life for that “1” improves dramatically by generation.

      1. AlphaEdge says:

        So you going to lead by example?

        I don’t see humans as the problem, as they are the solutions to problems. Human inguinuity will find a way.

        1. Jay Cole says:

          I am a single child…and I have a single child.

          1. AlphaEdge says:

            I was not implying that. Less of you, would be part of the solution? Of course I’m not advocating suicide, but making a logical argument. Humans are not a disease on the earth. A single human is infinity more valuable than the rest of Nature combined. Humans have to be great in number if we are going to have the scientists, engineers, etc, to get us propelled towards the stars. The vast majority of human habitation on earth is low density. Why? Just bad urban planning. Same with all the bad investments in our vehicle technology.

      2. Bill Howland says:

        I’m taking the contrary view here Jay.

        Richer cultures in general have less children.

        SO when Africa is told, don’t touch your oil, don’t touch your coal – it is in effect contributing to the people’s poverty, and their overpopulating. If Africa were to be allowed to develop for themselves, they’d as a matter of course solve their population problem.

        The guy who claimed calamity by writing 2 editions of “the population bomb”, has been proven totally wrong by the ‘green revolution’.

        He is still held in high esteem as a big expert even though nothing of what he was worried about transpired.

        Of course, the powers that be are in the process of raping Africa – the way the IMF does in every country it “HELPS”. I put it in quotes since every country they have ‘helped’ is worse off – by design. They loan the contry money for projects that the country can’t afford, and then , when the country can’t pay the loans back they start Asset Stripping.

        If an intelligent ruler sees this, and says, thanks but no thanks, according to Tony Perkins, “Confessions of an Economic Hit Man”, he is other ganged up against, or if he’s too popular, elminated so someone else can get with the ordained program.

        Overpopulation is nothing new: the ancient Greeks worried about it.

        1. Jay Cole says:

          Hey Bill,

          I’m just taking it to the next level/”end of the line” in response to EVProphet random comment on economic slowdown and clearing your conscious in an electric vehicle. I totally believe the Earth can sustain many more people (to what condition on average? IDK)…I’m not at all saying we are at the max. My favorite kind of movie is also apocalypse/end of the world movies FWIW – I enjoy the struggle to rebuild anew…or die out trying.

          But at the same time as the Earth’s population grows, the environmental condition will worsen/be less advantageous that if it was less…which is something that has been proven repeatedly.. More people=more garbage, more pollution/CO2, bigger human footprint, etc. We can get more efficient sure, but there is no way to be as efficient as having 1 offspring.

          Now if you want to go with the “we are someday going to be advanced enough to offset the number of people” and come to a balance/we aren’t getting worse point – that’s ok too, but now take that same theoretical future “betterness” and apply it to half the number of people even for a generation.

          The reality is, all the world’s issues in context of pollution, standard of living, can more easily be cured by having less of us…not by building “more” stuff “better”.

          But it is true, the more well off we do, the have less kids we have (until you go uber-rich and 2nd gen uber rich).

          However, the 1st world kids are many, many times worse for the environment that those that are in poverty, they live longer, use more resources and just as importantly they also set the example for all those now attempting to pull themselves out of poverty ascribe too. 1st world demands are easily the biggest influence in context of “the world”.

          Looking at another way, how much pollution, garbage, CO2, etc would not have been caused if you grandmother never had your mother, and then never had you (or me) and you thus never procreated. When you give it a face it is never pretty (thinking of people you know not born), but there it is.

          Advancing tech (both environmental and industrial) not only enables less “harmful/unwanted” effects from activities, it also means we need a lot less people to accomplish the same actions. In 1790, 90% of the population in the US had to farm, and you needed lots of kids to make that happen…its 2% now. That’s a 45x reduction.

          The overlaying issue with the “have less kids” solution is that the world’s economic system is debt based, and relies on the never-ending expansion of the economy to reduce the value of the debts on the books (but never the actual value).

          Stepping back, we have no idea where we “could be now”, or where we “could have gone” in the near future with all the great advancements of the last 100 years (and still yet to come) if we weren’t battling all the fallout from the population explosion at the same time.

          I would suggest (without obviously being able to prove it) society would have been a lot more Utopian than it is today. But what I do know is that my son’s life is (and will be) much better/easier because he doesn’t have 4 brothers and sisters. He gets all of my wife and I’s love, knowledge, attention and time growing up, we as parents have to work less to provide for him, and he gets the full weight of our financial resources both in our life (and death) behind him. The sum total of our two lives are put into one offspring…you can’t accomplish near the same on an individual level when two lives are focused on another 2, or 3, or 5.

          …but I digress (fun talk though)

          1. Bill Howland says:

            Well, ok, I guess it depends on whatever particular slant one puts on things, and as all Lawyers realize, the views of reasonable people differ.

            Many times, nature is said to be very “wasteful”. I’d counter that with viewing “Nature” as prolific.

            For instance, the cheap solar panels on my roof are only around 13% efficient.

            Someone could honestly argue that their gasoline powered auto is much more efficient than my 2 electrics since there is no such inefficiency anything in the supply train for the gasoline.

            As proof, they’d say plain water is $16 a gallon, but gasoline, even with all the road use taxes and sales taxes added, is a bargain at $2.50.

            To that I’d just make 2 comments:

            1). Madison Avenue marketing has yet to penetrate me to the extent that I’ll pay for a bottle of water. Its bad enough I pay 99 cents per 2 liters for sweetened, carbonated soda.

            2). I cannot argue against the fact that North America’s gasoline distribution system is highly efficient and economical for the customer. That in fact is unfortunately what makes EV’s such a hard sell.

            But that is also why I always argue to use the infrastructure we have as opposed to any new, unbelievably expensive ‘hydrogen highways’.

            A car that can get 50-100 miles AER 90% of the time, and then use existing infrastructure (convenient corner store gas stations) for the long trips is by far the most efficient way to go.

            So my vehicles may inefficiently use Sunshine, but here again, the Sun is viewed by me not as wasteful, but prolific.

            You don’t have to worry about too many people anyway. Whenever too many young males are out of work, the powers-that-be always find a reason to go to war with other young males.

            They view it as a periodic ‘mowing the lawn’.

            1. Jay Cole says:

              It’s all good Bill, we just talking it out. Everything is always viewed in context of the priority of the individual and how he/she interprets reality.

  9. Ian says:

    I would love to see the regen of 80 000 lbs of tractor trailer. Set up properly you might not even have to touch your brakes.

    This will throw hwy tax into caos. I used to have to buy fuel in each state.

  10. jamcl3 says:

    “…there are actually quite a few hybrid semis available…”?

    Really? What? Where? Outside of drayage duty and yard hostelers? That Mercedes announcement was not a semi, but a straight truck (no trailer) and they do not have production plans, you cannot buy it.