Nikola Announces All-Electric Semi Truck: Up To 1,000-kWh Battery

FEB 9 2019 BY MARK KANE 152

Nikola recognizes the advantages of BEVs. Will skip FCVs at some point?

Nikola Motor Company surprisingly announced that it intends to offer also an all-electric version of its hydrogen fuel cell trucks – Nikola Two and Nikola Tre (European version), while the biggest Nikola One will remain FCV only.

Those new BEVs are to be presented at the Nikola World even later this year with three battery options:

  • 500 kWh
  • 750 kWh
  • 1,000 kWh (1 MWh)

Nikola explains that it’s still bullish about hydrogen for long hauls, but in case of short hauls, it sees the advantage of BEVs. At least in theory, it seems that the all-electric version will be in a competitive position to the Tesla Semi.

The main question is whether Nikola doubts in its hydrogen concept (as many of us do)? It’s not too late to switch to BEVs.

“H2 is 5,000 lbs lighter than BEV and is cheaper for long haul applications even with H2 costs. BEV is for inner cities and non weight sensitive applications. Nikola is not phasing our hydrogen at all, we will see 50:1 more hydrogen orders but some applications BEV works great.”

The 1 MWh battery pack is expected to give Nikola Two a range of 400 miles (640 km) or 300 miles (480 km) in cold weather. Nikola says also that such a big battery will weight half of the truck’s weight.

“1) BEV @ 80,000 lbs. uses ~ 2.25 kWh per mile in real weather and normal hills on routes. 1MWh gets about 400 miles. Only 90% battery is useable. In cold weather, you get 300 miles / 1Mwh. Takes 69,000 “21700” cells @ 68grams = 1MWh. 10.5k weight in cells. 20k truck weight2) Fuel cell 80 kg H2 gets 7-10 miles per kg and uses same 2.25 kWh per mile as BEV. Fuel cell weight 15k -17k so about 3k – 5k pounds less than BEV. Fuel Cell can’t be beat long haul and BEV is good option for short haul. World needs both. ICE is enemy, not hydrogen or BEV”

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152 Comments on "Nikola Announces All-Electric Semi Truck: Up To 1,000-kWh Battery"

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Okay, next month they will announce also a Fusion truck. So far they have got CNG, hydrogen, and BEV, only these, and nothing delivered to any customer. I seriously doubt, they have any reliable battery cell supply chain.

It’s easy to line up small amounts of batteries. BEV Semi trucks won’t need large quantities for years. The first ones will be extensively tested by fleets before they buy in quantity.

These guys don’t have anything to show. Only vapor.

How do you know? Have they claimed they’d have trucks in market already? How do you know if they are on track or not? Do you work there?

Because they have been talking about them for years yet have not even shown a prototype.

Tesla has two testing out for example. A quick search for “electric truck” will bring up a dozen smaller but shipping units out there.

The question you should be asking “Why is it taking so long for them to produce a demo?”.

I was under the impression that Tesla had 3-4 mules running around.

Prsnep – quote: “Have they claimed they’d have trucks in market already? How do you know if they are on track or not? Do you work there?”
No, don’t work there, but you can look at their main unveiling presentation from December 2016:

In particular, watch around 15 min 15 sec, where it clearly says that “deliveries will be beginning in 2020”. Since Nikola haven’t even done any road testing yet, that is not going to happen, and on a recent tweet the CEO went as far as to say it wouldn’t be available for another 3 years

Right. Even the companies like Faraday Future which frequently get called vaporware have plenty of working prototypes.

Even if deliveries are a few years off, at minimum they should have a few mules. And given these would be fleet vehicles, they should at least build a few to get feedback from fleet customers (like Tesla is).

69 2170s per kWh is 14.5 Wh each and 213 Wh/kg. Panasonic’s are around 17Wh each and 265 Wh/kg. That assumes Tesla can get 3000 cycles out of NCA, though, which is….. unproven.

assuming that Tesla’s formula is used and not Panasonic’s, they will be hitting 3000+ full cycles according to earlier tests.
And in this case, like the rest of the Teslas, I SERIOUSLY doubt that these will be fully cycled.
Even if they are ran for 80%, (i.e. 10-90%), then they should get an easy 30,000-40,000 cycles.

“cheaper for long haul applications even with H2 costs”

Cheaper for who? At 5X price of diesel, it’s not cheaper. BEV should not be a comparison, they should compare to all trucks, just like I compare BEV to all cars to judge how good a particular EV is.

The fuel cell stack is not very durable, many components crap out prematurely, the poisoning of the catalyst is guaranteed. Then, there are safety valves, pipes to be inspected, leak detectors. The high pressure tanks are another headache. These guys are completely on crack.

As a solid state chemist who has watched a lot of people talking about hydrogen fuel cells for years, I quickly noticed thas a lot of incisive questions came to the issue you’ve raised, “….the poisoning of the catalyst…”. Honest researchers have acknowledged this all along – in the real world, H₂ sources would be contaminated with impurities that poison the catalysts.

I really don’t think Fuel cells have a prayer of making it.

Hush,you’ll have Toyota and Hydrogen First after you with pitchforks!

and that is just on the fuel cell. All of this ignores the fact that H2 fueling stations are not only expensive, but far/few in between.

Batteries will win out. Within another 3-4 years, they will be dirt cheap.

assuming that you are in Colorado, if you get a chance, talk to some of the guys at NREL that are working on Fuel Cells. I have a neighbor that drives a volt, working there, and he tells me that fuel cells, not batteries, are the future. Of course, when I ask how soon they will be ready, he continues to say that no viable car/truck will be before 2025.

Nikola is claiming they’re going to build a nationwide network of H2 fueling stations which will sell H2 fuel at a price per mile lower than diesel. That’s one of the ways we know it’s a sham company.

No doubt their H2 fuel will be made by unicorns from rainbows. 🙄

It’s about as likely as Tesla’s nationwide network of 7 cent/kWh Megachargers.

Megachargers at 7 cents/kwh is far more likely. Utility Solar PV has already dropped to 5.91 cents/kwh levelized cost, and solar has potential of dropping to below 1 cent per kwh.

The most important thing is to get commitment that they will charge using the chargers. Part of what makes supercharger costs complex is usage variations. So they are forced into paying peak rates, but it isn’t worth adding batteries and the like. The supercharger network by nature is set to be used less and less as EV range continues to improve more and more.

A round trip through a Powerpack costs a dime per kWh on top of the cost of generating that kWh in the first place.

7 cents is only possible if they make most of their money providing grid services. Looks good on their napkin sketch, but like solar powered Superchargers it’s just a marketing claim. It won’t happen for a decade, if ever.

Why do you assume they will always use a powerpack to provide the power? They can use a combination of solar and in some cases a powerpack.

Also, the 10 cents per kwh for powerpack you are basing on cost to customer, not cost to Tesla. You also have to factor in savings as economies of scale improves and the fact that they will release new megapack.

Solar power is going to take off much quicker than you think. As I pointed out, it is at 5.91 cents per kwh. It is already far cheaper than coal at 9.51 cents per kwh for new power generation. NG for new power generation is 4.81 cents per kwh.

But the real juicy stuff is if you factor in capitalized costs for the old power generation. That mark is 3-3.5 cents per kwh. Once solar breaks below 3.5 cents per kwh, our conversion to rewnewables will speed up exponentially. Because at that point, it is cheaper to build new solar panel plants than to use old NG/Coal powerplants.

And this will happen in 5 years or less.

TheWay, the bursty natures of Super/Megacharging means you’ll either store almost all kWhs or pay demand charges.

Utility scale solar already won the raw cost war in sunny areas. Dispatch is the new battle. There’s an order of magnitude cost difference in raw cost and dispatchable cost.

Dispatchable demand is by far the best solution to the dispatch issue. EVs represent the largest single potential source of dispatchable demand. Super/Megacharging demand is not dispatchable, though. It will ALWAYS be much more expensive. That’s why Tesla keeps raising Supercharger rates.

Mr Dog didn’t mention superchargers. He said megachargers, the Tesla truck refueling units.

I suggest reading what I wrote, I was clearly talking about megachargers, I only passively mention superchargers to explain why megachargers would be cheaper to charge on than superchargers.

7¢ / kWh is slightly above the average national price for industrial electrical power in the U.S. The only unbelievable thing there is that Tesla is suggesting it’s going to avoid demand charges.

I dunno if Tesla will be able to pull that off, but even if they don’t, it’s still a far more believable claim that Nikola’s claim for being able to make a profit selling H2 at $2-3 per kg.

I suspect that part of the reason for their recent buyout is to look at those ultra-caps.
Those are IDEAL for holding a charge for short-terms. They have the ability to be charged very quickly when grid usage is down. Likewise, they can provide buffering back to the grid, which would be awesome for utilities. And with the ability to charge 1-4 M times is a huge advantage.

considering that electricity from nat gas is less than .02/kwh, I suspect that Tesla will NOT have a difficult time accomplishing that.
Heck, electricity from coal is around .03/kwh.
.07/kwh is easy to do, assuming deals with utilities.

I pay 6.8 cents Canadian per kWh at night here in Ontario, points to how cheap electricity can be.

I think you meant unicorn farts… it is a gas after all 😉

I sit corrected. 😉

NEL hydrogen will supply their hydrogen stations.

Of course, after news like that Nel would love to invest even more bucks and deliver filling stations for free. Pure bananas.

NEL certainly won’t supply Nikola with H2 at a price will will let them make a profit $2-3/kg! Or even $11-12/kg.

NEL sells equipment, they don’t supply H2.

Do you have any evidence to support your prediction?
Maybe you’re a Nikola hater, are you?

The proof, not mere “evidence”, is called by various names, such as “thermodynamics”, “the laws of physics”… and “science”.

It’s freely available to anyone who bothers to look. For example:

Do Not Read Between The Lines

It “will” be PHFCV, which would help reduce the use of H2.

This comment made the light bulb go on. So if you are going to do effective regenerative braking on something this big, you are going to need a pretty massive battery just to handle the wattage produced. Anyone have an idea of how many watts would be produced to effectively slow an 80,000 lbs GVW truck from 70 mph under normal braking and how would translate to charging a roughly 50 kWh battery?

Mike – this has been mentioned before, and the speculation is that it’s one reason why the Nikola has a 320kWh battery – that’s mentioned by Nikola in their specs. The other point is that it needs a big battery for acceleration and climbing a long steep gradient. Of course, such is also going to be heavy and expensive, maybe not as much as a 1 MWh battery, but then you don’t have the weight of hydrogen tank and fuel cells.

“The other point is that it needs a big battery for acceleration and climbing a long steep gradient.”

Long highway grades are really the only reason. Kinetic energy of an 80k lb Semi at 70 mph is about 5 kWh.

Doggydogworld – quote: “Kinetic energy of an 80k lb Semi at 70 mph is about 5 kWh”
I confess I had to look that up, and you’re quite right. (About 5.5kWh if we want to be pedantic 🙂 )

But a big battery in regen terms is necessary to cope with POWER, not ENERGY, isn’t it? So if that lorry came to a stop in 30 seconds, if all the energy was regenerated, we’re talking about a power of 6 MW during that time.

And to cope with that you need a big battery…….

Which really sums up some of the silliness of the hydrogen approach. You need a big battery for many of the performance aspects – so why not just make it a bit bigger, and have a BEV truck…..? And avoid the hydrogen inefficiencies, and the size, weight and complexity problems of the fuel cells and pressure vessel?

Well, if Nikola hadn’t announced intentions to make and sell a fool cell semi truck, and if they hadn’t announced physically impossible plans to make and sell H2 fuel at a profit for only $2-3/kg, then I might take seriously their new vaporware BEV semi truck.

But as it is… No. Nikola is a sham company, and I very seriously doubt they will ever have a production vehicle of any type.

Why do you doubt? Are you giving just your opinion on this forum or do you have some inside info you’re not sharing with us?

Science, physics, and basic economics (EROI) aren’t “inside info”. They are just the way the real world works… unlike wishful thinking.

My biggest problem with this company is not their choice of natural gas, H2 or BEV, it’s the fact that they have absolutely no track record of producing a vehicle, other than a completely irrelevant BEV ATV. Not to say that new companies can’t emerge and hire up the right talent, but it’s a joke to suggest that Nikola is anywhere near as far down the path towards a production vehicle as Tesla is.

That’s why the largest truck maker Daimler is talking to Tesla, and not to Nikola.

No, the biggest problem with Nikola is their absurd and their utterly unbelievable claims about profitably dispensing hydrogen fuel at an impossibly low price, and their claims for building a nationwide network of H2 fueling stations to sell it at that impossible price.

Every company is a startup at one point. For example, Rivian is a startup EV maker, but they have lots of people excited about their coming SUV and SUT; there aren’t a lot of people saying Rivian is a sham company making ridiculous claims.

Really. If they could sell hydrogen at that low a price, why even bother getting into the truck business. They could make a fortune just selling hydrogen fuel.

Who’s gonna buy it?

If it was really possible to sell H2 fuel at that price and make a profit, then there wouldn’t be any trucking companies interested in Tesla’s Semi Truck. They would all be jonesing for an H2 powered truck, and there would be truck makers eager to sell to that market.

Yeah, get rich selling to all those Mirai drivers!

Exactly the same point I’ve made several times. If they could actually sell it at that price, then that’s a business worth billions or trillions right there… why bother to undergo the additional expense and difficulty of making trucks to take advantage of that?

Pushy that’s because Rivian has come out with two fully functional, production intent vehicles, and they have a factory which I presume is being setup for manufacturing.
Compare that to what? No vehicle, test or otherwise, certainly not production intent. Does Nikola have a factory? I can’t recall reading that they do, but it is easy to miss or forget all the details.

I’ve seen claims that Nikola does have a working prototype. What I not seen is any claims that Nikola has lent out a prototype to trucking companies for testing, as Tesla is doing.

Who knows if Nikola’s prototype even runs on hydrogen? It’s a sham company; maybe it’s a sham prototype.

They were horrified to learn that hydrogen filling stations are being closed in hydrogen-rich Norway.

Why is Norway supposed to be hydrogen rich?
The hydrogen is made using electricity.

Norway has cheap electricity and natural gas, and boatloads of cash to produce and store h2 in any way they want. Yet no one buys any fuel cell cars, BEVs are taking over, despite the cold weather.

Gosh, it’s almost like compressed hydrogen is an utterly impractical fuel, and can never be magically transformed into something practical, even where electricity is cheap.

Oh, wait… it’s exactly like that.

. .. Norway don’t use natural gas in general. Due to environmental causes even gas powered powerstations are not allowed to be used. . Excess energy is sold to the EU, resulting in record high electricity prices (compared to normal levels). Would probably not be allowed to use natural gas to produce hydrogen gas. Norway do not in general spend money in Norway due to risk of heating up the economy, so they buy stocks in foreign companies like Tesla, Apple and so on. And I have a feeling they would not invest in something like hydrogen production and storage. The government could of course lower taxes, give incentives to private companies investing in hydrogen. . But to invest directly is not the governments job. BEVs are MUCH cheaper to buy then a hydrogen vehicle. At least it used to be. The new Hyundai is maybe an exception. Still the price is much higher then the average car customer spend. Also, a BEV can be charged at home, where most EVs are charged. You can not do that with a H2 car. The H2 prices are cheaper then in the US, but H2 is a niche market. With a small… Read more »

no, H2 is made from CH4 99,99% of time.

Think they should start with something smaller, maybe a scooter. Once they have proven that their not clueless they can move up to something bigger… Imagine where Tesla would be today if they started first with a Semi-Truck..

The scooter market is already very competitive, and a scooter is not a significant bang. They don’t mean to deliver any truck whatsoever, but there is a bang there for a while, until it is clear they are pure scam.

“Imagine where Tesla would be today if they started first with a Semi-Truck..”

Imagine if someone would have told Tesla to start with a scooter……

Just saying they are trying to go from zero to hero as their first step.. Like some EV airplane company starting from a clean slate with a plane the size of 787 or A380 which would be close to impossible as you can get away from success..

Yeah, SpaceX should have started with bottle-rockets.

Ever seen the movie “Flight of the Phoenix”? (the original with Jimmy Stewart is better)

Check out the early hopper videos, Tesla did start with small rockets that did not go far.

Exactly. Tesla started where it was possible to succeed, and even there they almost failed a time or two. If Tesla had started by trying to make a commercially practical semi truck, then it would have been out of business quite a few years ago.

Why not start with a semi truck? Electricity is cheaper, acquisition price for EVs it’s higher. Stating with vehicles that do lots of miles seems a good fit. That’s how Diesel became big.
I think it makes a lot of sense to do heavy transport using EVs. We see it in trains for a long time, buses are becoming a trend… I think electric semi trucks are already late, at least for shorter distances.

Because in 2008, when Tesla started selling the original Roadster, li-ion batteries were far more expensive than they are today, and it wouldn’t have been possible for a trucking company to save money running a BEV semi tractor rather than a diesel semi tractor.

Even today, the economics are questionable, and likely won’t work for all trucking companies.

Well, they kinda are, with the Nikola Zero UTV…

It doesn’t seem a bad vehicle, but it is such a niche, it practically doesn’t prove anything.

You can start a company building electric trucks. E.g. Framo E-Trucks in DE are building electric trucks and tractor trailer trucks (up to 44 t). They build the electric drive train and battery and fit that into MAN truck chassis, so they can as a smaller company focus their expertise on the electric drive train.

They did, they have that little NZT off road widget thingie they sell

I’d like to have been a fly on the wall in the Nel boardroom when this news broke………

I also wonder what they’re going to do about establishing a charging network?

I don’t think Nel took them seriously in the first place. Nel has real customers which are not using any fuel cells, the Chemical Industry, metallurgy.

Well, Nel invested $5 milion dollars into Nikola last year at the funding round. Given the press release at the time , I’d love to know what Nel think about this news.

Terrible investment. Sometimes things go very very wrong.

I’m pretty sure they considered it a moonshot to begin with…

I suspect Nikola approached with a proposition of a multi-billion dollar order for electrolysis stations and Nel could hardly not be interested. At some point, we get, “we’re having a funding round, would you like to invest?” Whatever the chances were for Nikolas hydrogen truck a year ago, this news must put such into huge doubt (whatever they say publicly) and along with that must be the whole hydrogen filling network.

Either way, be interesting to know when the news broke to Nel.

NEL could hardly not be interested? Heck, if I had been an investment adviser, I’d have advised them to run, not walk, away from investing in what is clearly a sham company like Nikola.

There’s a difference between a long-shot investment and one that’s absolutely guaranteed to be a waste of money.

I’m shocked that NEL invested even 5¢ in Nikola, let alone $5 million. They ought to know better. Even a long-shot investment should be based on a plan which is not scientifically and economically impossible.

Do a search for this headline:
“Nel ASA awarded multi-billion NOK contract for 448 electrolyzers (1 GW) by Nikola Motor”

If Nikola succeeds, Nel stands to make a lot of money building hydrogen stations.

This headline implies a station cost of at least $5 million each.

TomN – It’s exactly thinking of that press release that made me initially wonder what Nel made of the latest Nikola news, and when they heard about it. (AFAIK it was on twitter before any official public announcement.)

From insideevs, worth looking at this calculation of battery cell weights: which gives a figure close to a kg/250Wh (4kg/kWh).

So I’d make a 1 MWh battery likely to weigh 4,000kg or 8,800 lbs for cell weight? So when Nikola say 10,500 lbs for cell weight, that seems high by about 20% to what I’d expect?

They need more robust chemistry and/or more shallow cycling than in a passenger car, to achieve the required longevity. FWIW, Tesla Semi is rumoured to be using more robust NMC cells instead of the higher-density NCA…

The NMC rumor makes sense from an engineering perspective. But it costs Tesla $450/kWh to build NMC Powerpacks and Powerwalls. Selling a 500 mile Semi with a $450,000 pack for $180,000 is bad business, even by Tesla standards.

Tesla asks about that much for *systems* using the Powerpack. That includes inverters, other components, planning, installation — and of course margins. It’s not even close to the cost of making the batteries.

Doggydogworld – “But it costs Tesla $450/kWh to build NMC Powerpacks and Powerwalls.”
But that’s a meaningless comparison for the reaons antrik gives. It’s not known for sure what Tesla’s cell costs are, but around $100/kWh seems in the right ball park. Best estimate I’ve seen for the long range Semi suggests a 900kWh battery, so a cell cost somewhere around $90,000. An estimate, yes, but a lot more realistic than $450,000!!

And I thought that Nikola’s claim of 210Whr/kg was very good. Your link shows the Tesla 2170 cells are 246Whr/kg and that makes them 11.8% higher. 10500 lbs for the 1MWhr batteries = 4773 kg.

This is not a bad plan. Nikola will incorporate the modular eAxle system from Bosch and by offering pure BEV they enter the market faster. The H2 stack/charger is an add-on and will be designed separately. In this way they can offer all distances, i.e. 0-500 miles on battery and 500-1200 miles on H2 at a later time. Large battery capacity like 1000 kWh may still pose problems for fast charging. To charge in an hour you’ll need at least a 1 MW charger, so you won’t be doing this with several vehicles simultaneously at a single location. In any case, by providing BEV and FCEVs Nikola can adapt wherever the market is going. I wish them luck.

1200 miles is completely on crack. You need to fill up the entire truck with fuel cell stacks, high pressure hydrogen tanks, and all the safety around the fragile pipes, valves, pumps, ducts on board. Model 3 is already lighter than Mirai and at Class 8 the fuel cell will be at a massive weight, power, durability, convenience disadvantage.

“To charge in an hour you’ll need at least a 1 MW charger, so you won’t be doing this with several vehicles simultaneously at a single location.”

That’s entirely possible with industrial level electrical power. One single induction furnace at a steel mill can draw up to 42 MW.

I’m sure it’s possible, but how many induction furnace exist in your town and how many semi trucks… more how many EVs will exist in 20 years.
It’s doable but charging EVs will place some challenges to electricity production and distribution.

Alex: “It’s doable but………..”
I share your reservations, but really what’s the alternative? Just stay as things are and carry on using diesel? What amuses me is when such reservations are heard about the charging of BEV trucks, but 3-4x as much electricity isn’t a problem to make hydrogen.

Don’t forget that for most of the poulation, in most of even the developed world, it was far from the norm for a household to even have electricity only a hundred years ago. Heck, I’m not THAT old, but I grew up in a house where there were only 4 power sockets in the entire house (built late 1930’s, but quite common in the late 1950’s, early 1960’s).

A news website was runing a story about the growth of electric cars, and showed two photos of a main street in the US taken 10 years apart. In the first, masses of horse based traffic, with just one single motor car. In the second, loads of cars, not a single horse. Never underestimate how quickly things can change when the will is there. (And there’s money to be made. 🙂 )

I agree, there will be challenges, just as there were challenges to rural electrification.

But it’s going to happen. It’s not only possible, it’s inevitable. Those who question that, need to consider the state of our roads and highways when the Model T was new, and how the motorcar revolution forced paved roads and parking lots to be built everywhere.

The EV revolution will force a lot of changes, including signficant upgrades to our electric grid.

Show me one single EV that can fully charge in an hour. Every single one can do pretty well 0-80% in 30min or so, but then they all taper and take ages to do that last 20%. Tesla Model 3 1:50 (SC provides upto 120kW), 40kWh LEAF 1:35 (CHAdeMO provides up to 50kW), both those examples the charger can provide more power than the size of the battery, so to think the truck will take an hour to charge is not going to happen. But up to 80% charge, sure thing, and that’s exactly what Tesla is promoting with their truck.

“Show me one single EV that can fully charge in an hour.”

Audi E-Tron Quattro. From 10%-80% it charges with 150 kW. From 80%-90% charges >75 kW, From 90%-100% charges >50 kW. So full charge in ~50 mn.

In theory it’s possible, things are improving… But in average practical charging time is for sure a lot bigger (as we speak).
If we take into account current cars, current infrastructure there are a lot of things that can make charging a big time consumption task.
Cold, chargers that only in optimum conditions go to the max, battery that are not cold enough or hot enough, occupied chargers….
Some Bjorn N. videos show those problems and this in one of the most civilized and wealthy countries.

Nicola shows who it’s ‘Daddy’ is when it uses gas industry language in looking for a slice of the transportation future e.g. “…World needs both. ICE is enemy, not hydrogen or BEV….”

No one needs 5kg of CO2 per 1kg of H2 from steam reforming of fracked methane.

Can be made by renewable electricity too.
Just add tax on other processes to make it less economical. Basically the process can be taxes to hell. The way wind and solar energy falls in price, the use of electricity should be more economical.
Just like people can charge batteries from wind energy for example. Time will tell, but with incentives and support for development – we can get a good CO2 neutral solution for many transportation needs. Nothing will beat a BEV in normal use, but er need to support trucks, ships, trains and special equipment for example.

Cheaper electricity favors more battery production and battery charging.

Hydrogen “Can be made by renewable electricity too.”

…and thus even more expensive, even less able to compete on cost with either diesel or electricity used to charge BEV batteries, and even more wasteful of energy on a well-to-wheel basis.

John Doe- you may not know this, but it takes 60kwh of electricity to make 1kg of H2 through electrolysis.

It takes less.

John Doe – “It takes less.”
According to Nels figures, it takes 42-49kWh/kg – but that’s at low pressure. To make it, get it up to 700bar and dispense to vehicle tanks, the figure goes up to 65-70kWh/kg.

But Nikola claims that all their H2 fuel stations will be 100% electric powered and make H2 on site from water. This is why I say the economy doesn’t add up. How can you start with electricity, convert to H2 and back again and be anywhere near competitive?

Nel claims their equipment can make a kg of H2 from water using something like 45 kWh. Solar arrays and large wind farms in the SW US price under 3 cents/kWh these days, so that’s $1.30/kg if you co-locate.

Equipment cost is the real issue. And figuring out a way to deliver H2 in areas without good solar or wind.

Doggydogworld – quote: “Nel claims their equipment can make a kg of H2 from water using something like 45 kWh…….”
But that’s just the electrolysis. Compressing hydrogen to 700bar needs a lot of energy, so the electrolysis and compression comes out at over 65kWh/kg.

And…. Musk (I believe) came out with a 7 cents/kWh figure for electricity, and was derided by detractors (maybe justifiably so). But it seems that for Nikola a different set of rules apply. If Tesla can’t get electricity for 7 cents/kWh, how then will Nikola get it under half that price?

For comparison purposes, I’m prepared to accept 7 cents/kWh for now – but it needs to be applied to Nikola, Tesla, and whoever else may come in the market to be sensible.

“Compressing hydrogen to 700bar needs a lot of energy,”

Indeed. $1.30 wasn’t meant to be all-in cost. There’s compression, as you note, O&M and capital cost recovery.

There’s no question you can put up solar and/or wind farms in much of the US at less than 7 cents/kWh. You just can’t deliver it in 1.4 MW bursts for anywhere near 7 cents/kWh. You either pay a fortune in demand charges or in Powerpack cycle cost. Unless, as I said, you have a side gig providing ancillary grid services at very attractive rates.

DDW- don’t forget the energy to chill and compress the H2 as well as the costs of tanker-trucking it to the stations.

G2 – Sure, 1.30 wasn’t an all-in cost. But Nikola’s $3/kg or whatever isn’t the fantasy many here claim. It comes down to capital cost for NEL’s equipment, O&M, duty cycle, etc. I don’t have a good feel for any of that.

This is for on-site generation. Stations would be co-located with solar/wind farms. 800 mile or whatever range gives you a lot of flexibility in choosing refill locations.

Doggydogworld – quote: “Sure, 1.30 wasn’t an all-in cost. But Nikola’s $3/kg or whatever isn’t the fantasy many here claim. It comes down to capital cost for NEL’s equipment, O&M, duty cycle, etc. I don’t have a good feel for any of that……..”
No, it is a fantasy. Obviously a lot depends on electricity cost, but let’s take 7 cents/kWh as illustrative. You doubt (maybe with good reason) that Musk won’t be able to match that – maybe you’re right – but if he and Tesla can’t, I don’t see Nikola doing any better. But let’s take it as a starting point?

Electrolysis, compression and filling tanks takes about 70kWh/kg, so it’s simple maths that for that electricity cost, it’s around $4.90/kg for electricity alone. No capital costs, no maintenance, no labour…….. Heck, to get to the $3/kg you mention above, you’d need an electricity cost of 4 cents/kWh, and that’s still without accounting for capital, maintenance, labour etc.

Believe me, I’d love to believe in the “Nikola vision”, but it didn’t take me long to realise that even with simple back of envelope calculations then their figures are a fantasy.

That’s all hased on 7 cents/kWh. Solar and wind PPAs regularly come in at 2-3 cents. What you cannot get is 2-3 cents on demand. Megachargers require kWhs on demand. Electrolyzers do not. That’s a night and day difference which will only grow as renewables increase. You can’t just ignore that difference and pretend all renewable kWhs cost the same.

Doggydogworld – quote: “Megachargers require kWhs on demand. Electrolyzers do not.” and “You can’t just ignore that difference and pretend all renewable kWhs cost the same.”
Yes, but the difference you are ignoring is the capital cost of engineering electrolyser capacity for peak. It may well turn out that both approaches may effectively need battery storage to optimise costs – Megachargers for the reasons you say, hydrogen stations to level the load, so that a (smaller and cheaper) station can produce the same amount of hydrogen, but evened out over the day/week.

I don’t know the capital cost of Nel’s electrolysers, so I can’t do that analysis. If the capital cost is high enough to require 24×7 operation then the whole scheme is DOA, anyway. I assume NEL and Nikola did this analysis before proceeding, but perhaps I’m giving them too much credit.

“You can’t just ignore that difference and pretend all renewable kWhs cost the same.”

Absolutely correct. Odd that you can’t seem to apply your own reasoning to why it’s so much cheaper, and always will be, to generate a kWh of renewable electricity vs. generating a kWh of renewable compressed H2 and have it available at a filling station to dispense it into a fool cell vehicle.

Even if the electricity used to generate and compress all that H2 was cheap, the equipment needed to generate, compress, store, and dispense it isn’t. Neither are all the solar farms you’d need to generate enough power to do all that. Solar panels aren’t free, and neither is the maintenance needed to run them. You can’t just handwave away the fact that if it takes 3.5x as much electricity to generate that much H2 (as opposed to charging batteries), then it takes 3.5x as much land and equipment to install solar farms to power all that.

A raw kWh of electricity will always be cheaper than a raw kWh of H2. Where have I said otherwise?

Fast fueling requires dispatchable energy. Dispatchable renewable electricity costs 3-10x as much as the raw cost we see in PPAs. That’s where Nikola has a chance to compensate for H2’s inefficiency. I’m not saying they will. There are other issues like capital equipment cost I’m not going to waste time analyzing because I don’t care about H2. I’m simply saying the knee-jerkers have not considered these issues. At least none of the ones I’ve seen.

“But Nikola’s $3/kg or whatever isn’t the fantasy many here claim.”

As they say: “You’re entitled to your own opinion, but you’re not entitled to your own facts.”

It’s a fantasy. Period.

Some is supposed to be made at the stations. No transportation.

And a station that make it own hydrogen are emptied by just one or two complete refueling. Then it takes hours to refill.

One thing is sure
Nikola is not shy when it comes to making claims

They don’t have a clue what they are talking about, and they don’t care at all.

Just bring it to the market, then everything is ok.

Like I said before, knew that one was coming LOL

“we will see 50:1 more hydrogen orders” Well, that might be true — but only because BEV shoppers will more likely look elsewhere… And if that’s the case, Nikola is screwed.

So Nikola admits that the hydrogen truck will be at most 2,200 kg lighter than a BEV one… Sounds about right, as that’s about as much as I’d estimate the Tesla Semi to weigh more than a diesel semi.

Big deal, on a 36,000 kg truck… And that’s what is supposed to make up for all the downsides of hydrogen?

And reading again, it’s talking about only being 3-5,000lbs lighter than therir own 1 MWh battery truck. That means the H2 version will likely be very similar to their 750kWh version, and almost certainly considerably HEAVIER than their 500kWh version!

It is a madness to believe Nikola what is lighter, especially not when Tesla Model 3 is lighter than toyota Mirai.

I have no difficulty at all believing Nikola’s truck weighs less, far less, than Tesla’s Semi Truck.

Vaporware weighs nothing.

Yeah, the digital Nikola render shown in the photo at the top is weightless.

Meanwhile the Tesla Semi prototypes seen all over the country have to go through trucking weigh stations.

And meanwhile notice how it is the serial Tesla bashers here who constantly defended Nikola H2 fantasies in digital renderings and the Hydrogen hoax while attacking Tesla’s concrete plans to disrupt the unsustainable fossil fuel trucking industry.

Great news. So they are dumping the Toyota’s FCV club and joining Tesla’s EV club.
Please bring it to market and give a kick to dirty diesel.

Nikola One: FCV
Nikola Two: EV
Nikola Tre: FCV-EV Hybrid. First 100 miles on Electric and the remaining 400 miles on Hydrogen. Let’s build Hydrogen stations all over the country.
Most semi’s do trips less than 100 miles, so they can easily cover many trips using Electric and for longer, they can use Hydrogen.

Looks like the “My battery is bigger than yours” thinking is alive, same as the stupid gas engine big number wars that in the end produced nothing usefull.
Range, efficiency, reliability and comfort should be at the forefront, simply putting bigger and bigger batteries in a vehicle doesn’t make it better.

They don’t have any batteries to begin with. This is just cheap talk, no one cares about.

Tesla has stopped using battery size as their unit of measure. Look at all their competition, “I’ve got 85kWh battery, no I’ve got 95kWh battery, we’ve got bigger battery than Tesla 75kWh”, yet all those competitors have lighter vehicles and go less miles than a Model X!
Bigger doesn’t mean better if the bigger is inefficient design.

When are Nikola’s first actual deliveries of any fuel type, scheduled to start?

Tried to find info in this story and others, and couldn’t.

Thanks, Assaf

Assaf – “When are Nikola’s first actual deliveries of any fuel type, scheduled to start?”
Errr, over a year ago, according to this from over 2 years ago:

quote – “At the launch event, Milton will also unveil Nikola’s plan for a network of Nikola hydrogen fueling stations across the US and Canada. Nikola plans to begin construction of its hydrogen fueling stations in January 2018.”

Will be interesting to see what they actually show in April.


Nikola competing with VW for the most vaporware announcements in pathetic attempts to draw business from Tesla?
VW are eventually getting there with real product, will be interesting to see if Nikola eventually can too.
And if H2 is so ubiquitously good, why the switch to battery offering.
In the words of Mercedes trucking is a tough game, I’m not convinced Nikola are big enough to survive

Nikola moving away from hydrogen little by little isn’t surprising, here are some stats for trucks Heavy(> 26,000 lb). This would be class 7 and above.

Under 50 miles – 40.7%
51–100 miles – 13.5%
101–200 miles – 6.7%
201–500 miles – 7.6%
501 miles or more – 10.4%
Off-road – 3.2%
Vehicle not in use – 3.2%
Not reported – 14.7%

So above 500 miles accounts for only 10.4%.

A BEV truck is 2X cheaper than what Nikola hydrogen truck costs. So effectively, most of the market is a non-starter for them and the hydrogen market is a small niche which will have to compete with biomethane CNG hybrids which already has an infrastructure.

Is that 10.4% of miles, or of trips? Big difference.

This is routes they travel. Aka, only 10.4% trucks travel more than 500 miles in their routes.

So how is that Tesla lawsuit going?

I think Nikola will have a very hard time releasing anything.
Having said that it’s interesting to read about their estimation for different type of batteries.

At least this conversation is more fun than “ wow, look the black Tesla semi is now RED!”


But red trucks are faster! 🙂

Thanks for just presenting the news and not turning this into a Tesla propaganda piece like Electrek did. Starting to get annoying.

I hope we can see thousands of Nikola truck on the road this year.

David – “I hope we can see thousands of Nikola truck on the road this year”
Not going to happen. From the Nikola Twitter feed:

quote: “2022 for production. We originally thought 2021 but we are pretty close to our original time line for production.”

(In late 2016, at their presentation they claimed production in 2020, so after about 2 years, their timeline has slipped back 2 years. Link to the youtube video earlier on in this comments section.)

I hope to become a billionaire and have a Playboy model beg to be my love slave. And that’s more likely to happen than Nikola ever actually selling a truck. 😉

You might be careful on that staement. Fitzgerald Gliders are building the first 5,000 and Fitzgerald is a very experienced truck builder.

Since the current moron in the whitehouse lifted the glider cap,
No doubt Fitzgerald is really really busy st the moment , but they are a very capable experienced truck builder.