A lot is apparently going on at the Nikola Motor Company, which is developing a long-range hydrogen fuel cell truck with a 320 kWh battery. The long haul truck is scheduled for production in 2020.
According to the latest news, the Nikola One is currently undergoing design tweaks to enable it to be more autonomous (if that is a thing), lightweight and accessible.
Weight is to be 2,000 lbs lower than in a comparable diesel truck, while at the same time the truck is to be wider and roomy than the original prototype, with two doors (the prototype was single-door).
The goal is to have self-driving capability for driver-less operation, with a backup manual system.
The fleets that placed pre-orders are to be named in the next two months. Nikola says it has received reservations for 8,000 trucks, but apparently have "verbal commitments for more than 25,000 trucks".
The plan for the near future is to complete bench testing, and do "live stress testing by mid-2018" with three years of tests in extreme hot and cold.
Founder Trevor Milton said:
"And by the end of next year, Nikola One will be made available to fleets to be tested on runs between cities, up steep inclines, through rotten weather and in other challenging conditions,"
Pricing of the trucks has yet to be announced, but that will happen in early 2018 (price-per-mile system is also considered with prices 20-30% lower than diesel trucks).
"There are lots of variables with pricing. But we want the operator to get their return on investment on Day One by only getting billed per mile."
Beside trucks, Nikola is also developing proprietary network of hydrogen fueling stations (376 in U.S. - if you can believe that, we are more than a little skeptical) with output for 12,500 kg of hydrogen per day. First eight are to be announced this summer.
Additional notes on what is happening with the company:
- added roughly a dozen new employees in first half of year
- expect to have 100 employees in the next four months (three times more)
- "much of the development work on the truck... is being outsourced to keep the core Nikola team nimble"
- $110-million funding round is expected to close soon, shooting valuation to more than $1 billion
- Ryder System Inc. (fleet management firm with 800 service locations in U.S. and Mexico) will take over ordering process as well as distribution and maintenance of the Nikola One. Thompson Machinery (Caterpillar dealer in Tennessee and Mississippi) also signed for the job.
- the first 5,000 trucks to be produced by Fitzgerald Gliders family in Tennessee, starting from October 2020
- full production in 2021
- within two month company will announce "a new, 1.5-million-square-foot robotic manufacturing facility"
"“This is the big one people are asking a lot of questions about. Our range is 800-plus miles, while theirs is 200 to 300. And ours requires a 15-minute fill-up time, while theirs needs a four- to eight-hour charge or a battery swap every 200 to 300 miles.”"
"Nikola’s truck will be able to handle travel in ports, long-haul environments and inner cities, while Tesla’s is designed only to handle port transit, Milton said."