Nikola Motor Company Presents 2,000 HP, 320 kWh Electric Nikola One Semi


MAY 11 2016 BY MARK KANE 45

Nikola Motor Company: What do you get when you weld (32,000) 18650 cells together? A massive 320 kWh battery pack 3X the size of a Tesla Model P90D. Yes the truck is real. To be unveiled in person soon

Nikola Motor Company: What do you get when you weld (32,000) 18650 cells together? A massive 320 kWh battery pack 3X the size of a Tesla Model P90D. Yes the truck is real. To be unveiled in person soon

A new electric start-up, Nikola Motor Company emerged from the stealth mode on May 10, 2016.

The name was borrowed from the Nikola Tesla, the same inventor who inspired Tesla Motors.

Nikola Motor Company (for friends “Nikola”), comes with an idea to offer the first electric-driven/plug-in hybrid (although Nikola states plugging it in is optional) class 8 semi-truck, called the Nikola One.

The second entry will be the Nikola Zero – or the “most powerful production model UTV ever built“.

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 320 kWh battery and turbine, which will power a generator to power wheels/recharge batteries.

A sneak peak of 320 kWh battery is shown on the right. 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.

A look at the advantages of on board lithium batteries

A look at the advantages of on board lithium batteries in the Nikola truck

Nikola expects that the One will cost between $350,000 – $415,000 depending on options.

Reservations are only $1,500, and there is good news that the first 5,000 orders qualify to receive free CNG fuel for first million miles.

Nikola CNG Stations

Nikola CNG Stations

An interesting concept is that Nikola Motor Company plans to have network of its own CNG stations. Trevor Milton, Founder, CEO and President, Nikola Motor Company said:

“The fuel will be delivered through Nikola’s own gas wells and fueling stations in every state when trucks enter service. We will be the first manufacturer of class 8 trucks that is vertically integrated from well to wheel.”

Battery and Range Extender:

The Nikola One’s electric motors are powered by a liquid cooled 320 kWh, lithium-ion battery pack (over 30,000 lithium cells), which is charged by a proprietary onboard Nikola Motor Company turbine. The turbine automatically charges the batteries when needed and eliminates the need to ever “plug-in”. The turbine produces nearly 400 kW of clean energy, which provides ample battery power to allow the Nikola One to climb a six percent grade at max imum weight at 65 mph. A typical class 8 diesel truck under similar conditions would have a hard time reaching 35 mph. And going downhill, the Nikola One’s six electric motors absorb the braking energy normally lost and deliver it back to the batteries, increasing component life, miles per gallon, safety, and freight efficiencies while eliminating noisy engine brakes and reducing the potential for runaway trucks.
Nikola Electric Truck Vs Traditional Diesel

Nikola Electric Truck Vs Traditional Diesel

More details about Nikola One here.

Planned Nikola CNG Stations

Planned Nikola CNG Stations

Nikola One

Nikola One

Nikola One

Nikola One

Nikola One

Nikola One

Nikola Zero

Nikola Zero

Nikola Zero is expected to cost $42,000 and offer top level performance.

With a 50 kWh battery (100-150 miles of range) and four electric motors (total 520 hp / some 380 kW) it could be the ultimate EV toy. Could be, because now we see only renders.

“The Nikola Zero has a single 155 hp electric motor at each wheel (4×4), generating 520 horsepower in total, and producing 0-60 acceleration times around three seconds. Jointly engineered with world renowned Pratt & Miller Engineering, the Nikola Zero was designed from the ground up to beat all competitors, in every terrain, all year round. Most of the Nikola Zero’s components sit at or below the frame rail, thereby lowering the center of gravity and improving anti-roll over capabilities compared to most other UTV’s. This was accomplished by removing the gasoline engine, clutch and emission equipment. Benefits of removing the gasoline drivetrain include: increased suspension travel, better handling, reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, quieter ride and no belts or clutches to fail. Once drivers get behind the wheel of the Nikola Zero, the instant power and performance will be like nothing else ever experienced.”

More details about Nikola Zero here.

Nikola Zero

Nikola Zero

Nikola Zero

Nikola Zero

Nikola Zero

Nikola Zero

Nikola Zero

Nikola Zero

Nikola Zero

Nikola Zero

Categories: General, Trucks

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45 Comments on "Nikola Motor Company Presents 2,000 HP, 320 kWh Electric Nikola One Semi"

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Big Solar

Solyndra is starting a truck company!?!?

George Bower

Boy that’s one sweet truck. Normally I’m not pro gas turbine but I think I’d make an exception this time.


The price of a new semi-truck runs $80-$200K.
At $350-$415K these trucks are overpriced.
A better price range would be $250-$310K.



Over the lifetime of a truck, they consume many times their purchase price in fuel.

Don’t discount what a game changer this could be.

Of course, I’ll reserve my judgement until I see a working prototype deliver realworld numbers.


If it is run on CNG, then it can save you that much over the lifetime of the truck.

Also, CNG trucks often aren’t nearly as desirable due to the low power/torque but it is cleaner than diesel. Combined with this electric drive train and AWD, it can be superior in performance and cost.


Yes, install carbon fiber CNG tanks with adsorbant. Very clean turbine operation with $1 fuel.

Chris O

Clearly nobody will pay double to triple for this truck. A lease deal that reflects the projected cost savings might appeal to this industry that’s all about calculating cost to the last penny though.

Of course there is very little chance that this ever moves beyond some (very pretty…) CAD drawings.


I know a few truckers who routinely log over 10,000 miles a month.

Diesel is pretty cheap right now, about $2.40 a gallon. Trucks driven nicely get around 6mpg.

If you double the fuel economy, and run 120,000 miles a year, you’re saving close to $25,000 a year in fuel alone. It really wouldn’t take long for that to add up, especially if fuel costs go up, you add a driver team who logs more miles, and you consider that this truck will need a LOT less maintenance…

Road King

Even if you assume a $30k fuel savings over diesel / yr., the fleet owner is looking at a 6 yr. break even point to cover the $180k estimated premium versus a traditional tractor. Good Luck with that! Most premium fleets depreciate and flip their units in years 5-7.


they still should of put a plug on it but we knew this was coming .


I initially thought that too, but they may have chosen not to because of the added hardware needed for charging balanced against the infrequent use?
However, given mandatory rest requirements for drivers, it would seem that time available to charge exists.
Maybe they’ll add battery charging from a plug-in source.


Who’s providing the batteries? Panasonic?


So its not REALLY a electric truck… it just uses electric power… Thats like saying a cruise ship is electric because the diesel engine make power to turn the electric motors.


That being said, getting 100-200% more fuel efficient trucks is ok by me. Plus no awful smoke stacks billowing black exhaust everywhere.


As far as we know, they could replace and double the battery pack power in 5 ? … 8 years?


I doubt a 100%, much less a 200% improvement will be possible. Big rigs are already very much optimized for fuel effciency and achieve quite amazing relative gas mileage, considering the performance they actually deliver. Maybe this will make sense for trucks that drive a lot within city limits or such uses.


I was going with the 5.5mpg to the 10-15 figure.


According to the Nikola website the trucks drive-train is set up similar to a diesel-electric train where an old V-10 or V-12 diesel just cranks along at about 800-1200 rpm making electricity for the traction motors without actually being connected to the train’s wheels.

That would make the Nikola truck a pure series hybrid. The large battery of 350 kw/hr gives the truck some all electric range, assuming the genset isn’t running continuously but only turns on when needed like in the Volt.

David S.

Looks like the Nikola one isn’t even a plug-in, just a serial hybrid…

” The turbine automatically charges the batteries when needed and eliminates the need to ever “plug-in”.”


It’s not clear if there is a plug or not.
IMhO a plug-in could save even more by recharging between long trips.


Now, in Twiter, they say “it will have a class 2 DC charging port for service centers”

Tony Williams

Obviously run by guys who don’t even know the nomenclature used in the EV world.

It almost sounds like they read these responses and used Twitter to “save the day”.

It would need a BIG charger… 350kW to 1MW for that big battery.

Since they clearly hadn’t put much thought in the Tweet, exactly where will they find this type of power? The cost to have it at a truck stop (and pay all the demand charges) is beyond nutty.


I’d love to hear the sound output difference. I hated nothing more as a child than to be jarred awake by someone jake braking down the road outside. The cost savings on maintainence will be a decent fight too. They will have reduced brake wear, but many big rig diesels go 500k-1mil miles before overhauling is required


Why Nikola? Because ‘Tesla’ was already taken! 😉

Seriously, those are some nice renders, and a really beautiful design for a semi tractor, but let’s see an actual prototype before we get all excited about what this company might actually produce.


“The turbine automatically charges the batteries when needed and eliminates the need to ever “plug-in”. ”

Is that just a terribly worded explanation of the benefits of a PHEV? Or is this regular hybrid? I recognize that 320kWh probably doesn’t get you very far in a truck like this, but it seems like at least having the ability to plug in would open the door to developing charging infrastructure for trucks like this, and also enabling them to get out of populated areas before they fire up that generator.


Serial hybrid with a microturbine.


Railpower proposed a switching locomotive based on this technology in 2001. Battery technology was PbA, but a micro turbine capable of being fueled by a variety was initially tested. Tried and true diesel generator sets were chosen by the railroads that were brave enough to try them. They eventually became known as the Green Goat.


This is very interesting.

Truck fuel stops cost thousands of dollars. So, this can be appealing if it can truly deliver the saving especially if the power train can last millions of miles which should.

Also, the performance that comes with it is probably worth the cost and in stop/go traffic and city driving, this thing should be far more efficient and have lower emission.

But I will withheld my final judgement until we see a real world production model and comparison with existing diesel models.

Paul Stoller

Make a version without the sleeper on it and I bet you could remove the range extender and have a nice local delivery version of the same truck.


If any industry needs this – it’s the trucking industry. At 5 MPG, truckers are getting killed at the pump.

Emissions are greater, fuel is expensive almost any time but during this Arab oil glut.

Our entire economy rests upon the efficient, economical transport of goods across large areas.

This could be the game-changer that gets Peterbilt, Kenworth, Freightliner and Volvo’s attention.

Road King

5 MPG? Maybe the average a decade ago. My Fleets averages 8.2 MPG mixed long and short haul, with just under 10 MPG on long haul routes. That’s loaded 88k lbs. with overweight permits.


This is excellent news! Diesel needs to die, and this is the way to go until batteries energy density gets where it needs to be too eliminate the range extender.


Another way to solve the trucking problem is to get rid of long haul trucks and build hyper loops for transporting goods and trucks are only used within 200 miles radius.

In that case, you won’t need range extenders anymore.

George Bower

the only problem with hyper loop is that is very vulnerable. The whole system could be taken out very easily by terrorists.

The current system of highways makes multiple routes possible.

I think there is a reason Elon has just let other companies do the hyper loop. I don’t think he thinks its that great an idea.

George Bower

all they have to do is add a plug and it’s a winner.

Problem is they chose a very expensive design. Gas turbines are expensive and batteries are expensive…..but it makes a nice dream machine.


I applaud the move to CNC over diesel, as that is an emissions improvement. However, as has become more well known, the CNG comes from fracking, and fracking tends to release natural gas directly into the environment, where it is about 23 times worse than CO2.

That being said, it also have to be pointed out that even great micro-turbines have an efficiency of under 30%, while modern diesels have efficiency of over 40%.

Add in the Rube Goldberg nature of series electricity — getting generated electricity out of the motor-generator, through the controller, into the battery, then back out of the battery, back through the controller, into the traction motor — and you’re lucky to get over 85% efficiency.

In sum, comparing apples to apples (i.e., ignoring the diesel v CNG issues, and just looking at efficiency), there is not likely to be much efficiency gained just pushing a truck (of equal aerodynamics) down a level road, which is basically where a lot of long-haul trucks spend a lot of time. (Yes, it will be more efficient in slow traffic, hill country, and idling.)


Um, Wrightspeed has a much better approach. Interesting thing with heavy duty trucks they are all build very similarly. Easily converted…


Will someone make a mobile home of that size with solar panels on it which will make it free to charge and go forever for free? After all if it is going to be a mobile home and will be stationary for most of the time, then the panels will charge it given enough time!

Chris O

Bizarre that no plug is projected. To fill up NG tanks with the amount of NG needed for that 800-1200 miles of range takes a very long time, probably hours. During that time the 320KWh battery could also be charged, adding another 150 or so low cost miles to the range.

Road King

Fast fill CNG stations, can fill at 12-15 GGE/ min. The largest CNG back of cab systems are ~ 180 GGE, so estimate about 15 minutes to fill the CNG tanks.

Where Nikola is jumping the shark is their fuel station network. $2M to build a fast fill CNG site. Not to mention operating costs, they need a pretty big bankroll to figure this out.


It says in the article “plugging in is optional” which implies it can be plugged in too… saving more money, better still it can take on fuel while the driver sleeps even more cheaply that taking on CNG no doubt. Depending on the city its delivering to I’d assume it’d be capable of zero emissions where necessary.


Even if this isn’t fully electric, should Tesla ever pick up startups under their wing? Like, imagine if Tesla worked with Zero Motorcycles!

Accelerating Nikola motors here would do immense good. If Tesla had anything to do with it, they could make it all electric.

Mister G

Until prototype is available, I won’t get too excited.


All this sounds fishy to me. I believe it when i see it delivered.

R. Grunfeld

This can be very a very interesting concept for Europe where distances are smaller, populations denser and CNG filling stations are becoming abundant. Nikola would have to come with a more compact rig however because of the length limitations within the EU.