Nikola Corporation announced a strategic, multi-year supply agreement with Proterra, related to battery systems for the Nikola Tre BEV and FCEV Class-8 semi-trucks.

According to the press release, Nikola will switch to Proterra's battery systems later this year, as the first prototype units are to be delivered in Q2 2022. The first Nikola Tre with Proterra batteries is expected to be produced in Q4 2022.

"Proterra product is expected to be incorporated in the Nikola Tre battery-electric vehicle (BEV) and Tre fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV). The first Proterra Powered Nikola semi-trucks are expected to be produced in the fourth quarter of 2022, with Proterra delivering prototype systems to Nikola starting in the second quarter of 2022."

We must admit that it's quite surprising, as we thought that Nikola aimed to have battery systems produced in-house. It's common for start-ups to take core EV tech in-house.

Now it seems that both the traction battery in the Nikola Tre BEV and the small auxiliary traction battery (which supports fuel cell stack during acceleration and is used for regenerative braking) in the Nikola Tre FCEV, will come from an external supplier.

The press release does not specify who is supplying Nikola with current battery systems or other core battery components.

Mark Russell, Nikola CEO said:

“With the growing demand for the Nikola Tre BEV and FCEV, we have actively pursued battery supply through a dual source strategy. We look forward to collaborating with Proterra, which is expected to bring industry-leading heavy-duty EV battery solutions to Nikola’s battery-electric and fuel cell electric vehicle platforms.”

Nikola started deliveries of the very first electric trucks in California in December. A recent tweet says that "pre-series" vehicles number 4 and number 5 were handed over to Total Transportation Services.

"Now, this is how we like to close out the week! Smiles are all around following successful runs of the Nikola Tre #4 and #5 pre-series BEV trucks with our customer TTSI in LA and Long Beach!"


In the case of Proterra, the company is producing battery systems for its own electric buses, as well as for many other companies, which due to effect othe f scale most likely makes its offer more competitive.

Among Proterra's battery cell suppliers is LG Chem's LG Energy Solution. In August the company announced that it will use LGES's cylindrical cells (the latest NMCA chemistry), which will be produced in a new LG plant in the U.S.

"Since 2016, Proterra and LG Energy Solution engineering teams have been collaborating to maximize cell performance to meet the stringent requirements of commercial vehicle markets. The cylindrical cells to be manufactured at the new LG Energy Solution plant will feature a new, high nickel NMCA chemistry ideal for commercial vehicle and industrial applications."

We guess that it might be the chemistry of choice for Nikola vehicles, which are promised to offer a range of up to 350 miles (563 km).

Proterra said at the time that it "will commit upfront a low nine-figure sum under the agreement to secure multiple gigawatt hours of dedicated U.S.-manufactured battery cell capacity on an annual basis." This alone indicates that it's not easy to attract battery suppliers without a serious financial commitment.

Gallery: Nikola Tre BEV

Nikola Tre 6x2 specs:

  • up to 350 miles (563 km) of range in an undisclosed test cycle
  • 753 kWh battery capacity
  • top speed of 75 mph (121 km/h)
    gradeability of 36 mph (58 km/h) at 6%
  • system output of 480 kW (645 hp)
  • DC fast charging: 10-80% SOC in 120 minutes at up to 240 kW
    (CCS1 or CCS2 standard)
  • GCWR: 82,000 lbs. (37,195 kg)
  • vehicle weight: undisclosed
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