Nikola Motors Achieves $200 Million Fundraising Goal

NOV 17 2018 BY MARK KANE 109

Funding secured.

Nikola Motor Company has oversubscribed its C round of financing, raising $210 million in total – more than $100 million this summer and an additional $105 million in November.

The company said that so far it received $12 billion in pre-orders, with $380 million in just-announced Nikola Tre European orders. We are not sure how much are binding-orders but we assume not too many, as the production version of the hydrogen truck hasn’t yet been unveiled or demonstrated in action.

Nikola promises that by 2028 it will have hydrogen infrastructure coverage in the U.S., Canada, Europe and Australia.

Nikola Tre

“Just last week, Nikola announced a sneak peak of the European Nikola Tre hydrogen semi-truck at its Nikola World event set for April 16-17, 2019. The cost per mile for the Nikola Tre is expected to be around 10-20 percent less than comparable diesels in Europe. “Once the Nikola Tre arrives in Europe, diesel will finally be on its way out, ” said CEO Trevor Milton.

In the first five days, Nikola has logged over $380 million in orders for the Nikola Tre and is now in discussions with some of the biggest fleets and brands in Europe. “It is a not a bad start for a new European and Australian brand,” said Nikola’s CFO Kim Brady.

“Now that we are funded and oversubscribed, we are kicking it into high gear and preparing for Nikola World 2019. At Nikola World, you will see the USA Nikola Two prototype in action and be able to step foot in our European Nikola Tre. We also have a few surprises for the show from our powersports division and other new product announcements,” said Milton.”

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109 Comments on "Nikola Motors Achieves $200 Million Fundraising Goal"

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And it’s also free to reserve one on the website… i wonder if these all count als “Pre-orders”

That’s a brave investment, it’s effectively betting that Tesla won’t succeed with the Semi.

The Tesla truck is a much shorter range truck and won’t really be competing with the Nikola. They will be deployed in very different settings.

Without hundreds of millions dollars worth of yet to be build (but never gonna happen…)infrastructure it’s actually Nikola’s trucks that aren’t going very far.

Did you read their business plan? You seem to be pretty confident it has holes.

It’s based on unrealistically low estimates for the cost of H2 fuel — much too low — as well as unrealistically low estimates of construction costs for a truck stop that can dispense the H2 into semi tractors.

I don’t know if it’s a combination of wishful thinking and science denial, or an outright scam. But either way, Nikola is a sham company.

My sympathies to anyone who threw their money away investing in the company.

For a “sham company”, it appears that Nicola is going to have enough angel investors “who threw their money ($210 M) away”, to continue operations, at least in the near term.

By 2028 it should be interesting to see what Nicola’s promised “hydrogen infrastructure coverage in the U.S., Canada, Europe and Australia” actually looks like. The planned three Continent Hydrogen infrastructure buildout alone, should take up a sizable chunk of that $210 million C round financing.

The “coverage” is for trucking not cars.

Actually it is for both, because Nikola hydrogen centers will be full service travel centers open to anybody and they already said they will sell hydrogen to anyone that wants to buy it.

Sure but the trucks are the priority not cars.

I think H2 is a good idea for semi and big petro company should just start building the network, they do not need to be everywhere. just along highways.

Once you get a range above ~500 miles, charging/refueling infrastructure is much more important. Hydrogen filling stations are expensive and at the moment virtually non-existent. It will prove to be one of Nikola’s two achilles heels. (the other being fuel cost)

But I hope they succeed, the more the merrier. The switch to sustainable transport can’t be quick enough.

To succeed the first thing Nikola needs to figure out is how to reduce the cost of distributed hydrogen from $16/kg to a price point that’s competitive with diesel at least, which means getting it below $3/kg. If they figure out how to do that they shouldn’t even bother with those trucks, they would have achieved the miracle of affordable hydrogen and capitalize on that.

It’s the same as Fisker claiming his cars will be powered by solid state batteries; if he was sitting on commercially viable solid state that would be his business, not some fancy car, yet illogical stories like that seem to actually work on some investors. Bizarre…

Exactly! If Nikola really has some magic way to make a profit at selling H2 at $2/kg, as they claim, then they should do that. They would make billions or even trillions if that was possible. No need for them to take on the added burden of making and selling trucks to use magically low-priced H2 fuel.

It’s not that magical. Wind PPAs are 2c/kWh in the US interior. Nikola’s electrolysis supplier, Nel, is claiming 42 kWh/kg, and <$500/kW capital cost. Assuming 12h/day (for lowest electricity cost), 10 year life, and 5% financing, that capex is $0.63/kg. So $2/kg is doable at scale if you're in the middle of nowhere with low land/labour/etc costs.

Finding regular customers and distributing is another cost, which is where the current $10+/kg comes from. I don't think they can find billions of dollars in revenue from H2 in the current market, where SMR equipment is a sunk cost and natural gas has been $3/GJ, i.e. ~$0.5/kg of H2. Nikola needs trucks to create regular demand.

Remember that Tesla is claiming super low fueling costs for their semi, too. I think both are banking on cheap renewable energy, and hydrogen can be produced directly at a wind farm.

I think the bigger question is the fuel cell cost. If they could produce them at <$200/kW, then they could take over the peaker market across the world. That is truly huge worldwide (maybe a billion kW of rarely used generation).

Just for starters, the 42kWh/kg you quote are for the hydrogen alone. For producing hydrogen *and compressing to 700bar* the quote is 65-70kWh/kg.

You’re also neglecting the costs of labour and maintenance, and for such a station the latter alone is likely to be considerable.

Compressing is nowhere near that much. Under 5 kWh per kg.

I agree that station costs aren’t cheap, but that amortizes down if you have regular use, just like gas stations. I thought Pushmi was talking about production alone.

It is obvious how to achieve some $5/kg, studies and calculations have been done on the subject, and pilot projects. You just increase scale and you have much lower CapEx & OpEx per kg both for distribution and production.

It is hard to do it just with few thousand low millage cars, but is different for fleet trucks that consume much more fuel and refuel in the same places, or transit buses that refuel in one place.

Government regulations that mandate emission reductions also help. Diesel is taxed up to $5-$7/US gallon in Europe, and most of these taxes are not going to be applied to hydrogen fuel until it scales up.

Now it is up to them to show that they can execute, as it is still new thing for such use.

The hydrogen lobby made sure to leave a trail of wildly optimistic cost projections on the internet, but here we are after decades of research (this is *not* a new thing)at $16/kg. Like the man said: everything works in PowerPoint but the laws of physics are definitely not helping making hydrogen more than the hoax it obviously is. Even the $5/kg you suggest is too expensive for Nikola’s HFCV truck to be competitive with diesel let alone battery electrics.

Subsidies like tax exemptions could plug the holes but are not sustainable nor likely if BEV trucks are available as a subsidy free alternative.

It’s still $10+/kg because there’s no demand. Natural gas spiked up recently, but it’s been around $3/GJ for the last 5 years. At that price, SMR at 70% efficiency only needs 50 cents of natural gas per kg of H2.

The trucking case is very different. There will be regular demand of fuel, most stations will be on highway corridors (for cars most are in cities), they can be on certain freight routes at first (for cars you need a large network for anyone to buy), you can produce H2 directly at wind/solar farms to eliminate transmission cost (or at least use that to negotiate with utilities), etc.

Fuel cost isn’t the biggest red flag when it comes to Nikola, IMO.

To zzzzzzzzz – It really isn’t obvious at all. It’s a fact that via hydrolysis it takes around 68kWh of electricity per kg of hydrogen to do the electrolysis and compress to the required pressure. There’s little technology can do about that – it’s inherent to the physics.

So what figure for cost do we use per kWh of electricity? Let’s be kind and assume about 4cents per kilowatt hour. Even then, we’re talking not far short of $3 per kg, **FOR ELECTRICITY ALONE**.

On top of that, you have:

capital cost of hydrolysis stations
maintenance (compressor maintenance is not cheap)
land and building costs for the stations
local taxation etc

and I would be very confident that all those are going to average out to a lot, lot more than $2/kg! So how on earth can it “obviously” be the case that the cost of hydrogen will only be $5/kg?

And that’s before we even think about any profit on the (vast) investment!

To put a more concrete cost number on this: NREL study labeled “Comparison of conventional vs.modular hydrogen refueling stations” puts the cost of hydrogen by on site electrolysis at $21,73/kg for a 300kg/day station (see conclusion).

At 300kg/day that’s only 60 cars @ 5kg/car. What’s that, like 24min fill? Not much better than an EV is it?
And based on value for money, how many DC chargers could you build with that hydrogen station money? I’d bet at least 10. So now you’re filling at least 10x as many vehicles, so really how does hydrogen make any sense at all?

The NREL report I mentioned puts the cost of a 300KG/day on site electrolysis station at $3.45 million, so yes one could build quite a few quick charge stations for that.

300 kg at 66 mpge is 20,000 miles/day. It may be more if you deliver more fuel in case of central delivery.

10 stall 60 kW average charger station can provide something similar at hard limit, assuming it is close full usage whole day. I don’t think you can expect it at night. Realistically it would be barely usable at close to 100% capacity, as nobody wants a car that may force to wait an hour or few for charge and than spend another hour at charger.

To match 1000 kg/day Nikola/NEL truck demo station you would need few megawatt level charger, plus some huge battery to balance grid connection. I doubt you would make it much cheaper. But first you need to invent cheap and light batteries that would be able to take such charge.

32 ton/day Nikola production station would mean 32000 kg *33 kwh/kg /24 h = 44 MW, plus buffer capacity. Not yet power of nuclear reactor, but you may start thinking about it if you want to scale /s

200 kg/day car station from the same NEL fills 33 kg/hour back-to-back. 7 minutes per car max including getting into place and out.
The nominal capacity per day for today’s retail station just means tank size assuming once per day delivery. Dispenser throughput is higher, and some stations are refilled twice a day if necessary.

Chris O, It is for 100/200/300 kg/day station. As you may notice from the study large part of the cost is flat. Nikola ordered 8000-32000 kg/day stations and electrolysers from NEL. Initial order is for two 1000 kg/day stations, $3.6 million contract. The NREL study assumes station cost $2.38M (100kg/day) to $3.45M (300kg/day). Not directly comparable. Nikola demo station order is for Nel’s A485 electrolysers. DC power consumption is 3.8 – 4.4 kWh/Nm³. Nm³ of hydrogen is 0.08988 kg. So you have 42-49 kWh/kg. Their plan is to use PVs, commercial PV installation is part of their business and Arizona has very good solar insolation for it. So you may skip all these expensive grid integration and extra AC/DC conversion costs. Assuming $.04/kWh for local industrial scale PV you get $1.80/kWh for electricity. The NREL study assumes electric grid and some 11+ cents/kWh I think. Engineering, permitting, site preparation, maintenance are mostly flat costs per site. $1.8M 7 year depreciation on straight line schedule is some $705/day. Or $0.70/kg for demo 1000 kg/day station (and yes, it can run close to nominal capacity as it has few ton buffer tank). Or $2.1/kg assuming 33% PV capacity factor. Plus… Read more »

Tunny, they’re going to install solar, it’ll be free energy. Free I tells ya! /s

You mean electrolysis.

They should use solar panel from Solar City and battery from Tesla to produce H2!

They definitely should, and while they are wasting power at a rate of 3 to 1 compared to battery electrics Tesla could use the proceeds to build out the solution that actually is viable: battery electric trucks.

They already own their own solar company

They make the fuel where they dispense it.

Using electrolysis presumably but per the firms that make the equipment for that that takes about 68kWh per KG. A BEV truck would get ~35 miles from that, a hydrogen truck ~7 miles.

Nikola Motors has claimed it will become U.S. largest energy consumer, now you know why.

An H2 truck that’s as aerodynamic as your BEV truck will get 10+ mile per kg.

Source please. Cue crickets….

That is about right from a diesel versus fuel cell estimate.

You are not a source.

It’s just math. Fuel cells are around 60% efficient. SOFCs a bit more, PEMs a bit less. H2 is 33.3 kWh/kg, so that’s 20 kWh of electricity per kg. Tesla claims less than 2 kWh per mile, so a fuel cell in the same truck would be 10+ miles per kg of H2.

Yet Toyota’s HFCV Truck only gets 7 miles per KG. Seems like a stretch that some improved aerodynamics could result in a 40% efficiency boost, so I’ll still be needing a source for that 10 miles per KG for Nikola trucks. Not that even that sort of efficiency would help much to close the gap with battery electrics.

There’s no need to exaggerate it into a 5x difference.

Nikola’s electrolyzer partner is Nel, and their website claims 3.8 kWh/m3, or 42kWh/kg. Add compression/delivery, assume a little exaggeration from Nel, and it’s probably 50 kWh/kg.

Compare a Model 3 and Mirai, and you can see the efficiency difference between EV and FCV. Mirai does 66 EPA miles per kg, Model 3 uses 26 kWh/100 miles. So it’s 1.3 miles per kWh for FCV, and 3.8 miles per kWh for Model 3, or ~3x difference.

There’s no way that Tesla’s 2kWh per mile and Toyota’s 7 miles per kg were under the same conditions. If anything, the 3x gap would close a bit, not get bigger.

3x difference is more than enough to make your point.

Nel give actual figures for electrolysis and compression – 65-70kWh/kg depending on model used for production.

Interesting. Where did Nel state that?

Arne-nl: if the H2 is from fossil fuels (and it will be) this is *not* an example of “sustainable transport”.

No, there are more ways to make H2, not just the one you’re mentioning.

The most well-known is electrolysis (with solar or wind energy). Nikola has stated they will only use that method. So, although it is wasteful use of precious green electricity, it doesn’t depend on fossil fuels.

There are other pathways possible like a direct sunlight-to-H2 “artificial leaf”, but these are more lab tests than practice. It merely shows that we probably have multiple ways to generate fossil-free H2.

To arne-nl – Yes, such is possible, technically POSSIBLE….. if money is no object! (Though the “artificial leaf”trials show very poor efficiency to date.)

But if you accept we start with solar or wind derived energy, then why, WHY not simply just use such to charge vehicle batteries? Why consider a more convoluted route in every aspect, and one which wastes so much more of the energy in so doing? Why go a route that realistically will cost more per mile than diesel?

In the past, the answer would be that batteries simply were too expensive and not viable. That’s just not true any more, and the trend seems to be getting cheaper and quicker to charge as time goes by.

I can only assume that anyone who doesn’t accept that has a vested interest in hydrogen technology…….. Unfortunately (for them), realities are likely to catch up in a very painful manner for some.

“WHY not simply just use such to charge vehicle batteries? ”

Because trucks can’t sit and wait for the sun to shine or the wind to blow. H2 stores the energy until the truck arrives. Battery storage adds 10 cents/kWh.

To Doggydogworld – “Because trucks can’t sit and wait for the sun to shine or the wind to blow. H2 stores the energy until the truck arrives. Battery storage adds 10 cents/kWh.”

Same problem with hydrolysis from solar/wind. For efficiency it’s best to run the electrolysis pretty near 24/7 except for maintenance periods. You COULD just make the hydrogen when the sun was shining – but that may mean only about 8 hours out of the 24 in a day, so (compared to 24 hour operation) the electrolysis station would need a peak capacity 3x as large – and hence be very much more expensive than a smaller station run 24/7.

Or use a (cheaper) smaller station and let it run continuously via battery storage……..

Tunny – Why does efficiency require continuous max operation? I’m no expert, but I’ve never come across that.

Electrolysis cells are a huge capital expense. If you run them only half of the time, you need twice as much for the same amount of hydrogen…

It’s been described as one of the major problems in the study I have read.

If you wish to produce 24kg a day, then as extremes you could either (say) have a small electrolysis plant and produce 1kg/hr for 24 hours or a large one with a capacity of 24kg/hr and only run it for an hour a day.

The kWh per kg figure for efficiency may be the same in each case, but the bigger plant will cost far more in capital cost – that was what I meant by “efficient”. Same principle if you’re only running during hours of sunlight – for a given mass of hydrogen you need a bigger (and more expensive) plant than if spreading over the whole day.

With 10 cents/kWh added it’s probably still cheaper than what’s added by the three times lower efficiency of using hydrogen — and that’s *on top* of the enormous CapEx for the hydrogen infrastructure, which probably dwarfs the CapEx for the batteries.

Yes, electricity is cheaper even with storage. I’m not arguing H2 is better, simply trying to correct some of the more extreme FUD.

Don’t know about fear and uncertainty but definitely a lot of doubt about hydrogen among those who ever bothered to take a look at the numbers and I can see how that could be a problem for a person who needs a company like Nikola to be a serious threat to Tesla for his own little FUD campaign.

Trust me: this elaborate scam is not a threat to Tesla.

The Tesla truck is a much shorter range truck … for now.

There, I fixed it for Dan. I take it Dan is not a student of disruptive technology / innovation. The Tesla truck will get much better range in the future.

They will just transport goods and passengers on ICBMs across the ocean. For the price of airline ticket! Didn’t you heard that Elon said that? It means it is 100% truth, guaranteed!

How so?

If the Tesla Semi succeeds, diesel will be gone, or on the way out, long before Nikola builds most of their promised hydrogen infrastructure. And trying to compete against cheaper battery-electric trucks is hopeless. So their only hope is that battery-electric trucks do not happen for some reason…

Typically you don’t charge 18-wheeler from 220V outlet in your surburban house with attached garage while you sleep at night 😉

zzzzzzzzzz – “Typically you don’t charge 18-wheeler from 220V outlet in your surburban house with attached garage while you sleep at night”

No – but what does that have to do with the price of tea in China? 🙂

There have been many quotes about the Tesla Semi, but (from Wikipedia entry: ) the direct promise is it ” ……would be able to run for 400 miles (640 km) after an 80% charge in 30 minutes using a solar-powered “Tesla Megacharger” charging station……..”

Now, I don’t blindly believe everything on the internet by any means, but that does come directly from Elon Musk. Is it true? Will the Semi be able to do such? It’s certainly physically possible, and all I will say is that IF it is proven true, it blows all the claimed apparent range/time to refuel advantages of the Nikola out of the water. After 400 miles, surely any trucker won’t have a problem with an enforced 30 minute stop – plug it in and go to the toilet, have a coffee and a snack?

(And in other scenarios, say 8 hours at a depot overnight, it allows for a full charge at much lower than megacharger charge rates.)

Do you blindly believe every outlandish claim from Elon Musk?
The same guy who promised $20-$30k Model 3 no later than 2012 or so:
Cross country autonomous driving when? Last year?
The guy who signed securities fraud (aka lying) settlement just recently. Has another criminal case pending of malicious libel claiming some guy is child rapist just because he dared to contradict him on Twitter?

You know the saying, if you somebody lied to you once, it is shame on lair. If somebody constantly lies to you and you still want to believe it, the problem is with you.

zzzzzzzzzz – quote “Do you blindly believe every outlandish claim from Elon Musk?” Simple answer, no. I’d have thought that was pretty clear from the number of times I used “if” above. 🙂 But – whilst no blind slave to his charm, I have to concede he has achieved a huge amount. Many times his critics have said something cannot be done, and he’s gone on to confound them. So why not here? With no personal interest either way, I feel it’s most likely his claim about 400 miles of range for a 30 minute charge may not be far from the truth – it’s too specific a remark to make without foundation. If not true, too much of a hostage to fortune. But as I said before, we should know for sure within the next few months, as with other factors. And again, if -**IF** – it is true, a central argument (range/refuel time) that Nikola are arguing in their favour is mostly destroyed. That’s the fear that I am sure is hanging heavy over all involved with the Nikola project. And it’s wrong to make it a Nikola/Tesla issue anyway – there will be/are other battery trucks from… Read more »

There is some hope for H2 in trucking. Wind PPAs are 2c/kWh, but grid electricity is 13c/kWh. H2 can be produced at renewable sources and shipped, so it’s not necessarily more expensive, even when using 4x the kWh. But maybe utilities will make deals with Tesla and Nikola to avoid bypassing the grid, so we can’t say for sure. And trucking doesn’t need a huge network of expensive refueling in cities like cars do.

They won’t necessarily compete, either. I’m sure a chunk of the market will want longer range, faster refuelling, and slightly higher cargo weight than Tesla can offer, even if running costs are higher.

“We are not sure how much are binding-orders but we assume not too many, as the production version of the hydrogen truck hasn’t yet been unveiled or demonstrated in action.”

Could the author of this article please point to just one single piece on InsideEV when you said the same about the Tesla Semi?

Thank you!

Why? The Nikola semi only has free reservations and no binding orders. So their order value is exactly zero.

Tesla has reservations that cost and they also have the possibility to put yourself at the front by actually putting in an order and paying for the semi straight away. Very different.

A better comparison would be Fisker or Faraday. Tesla is now an established company where Nikola Motors is not.

Clarification of non-binding orders was true and was written about Tesla for that matter. Every pre-order of the Model S, Model X, Model 3, and Semi were not binding orders even with the reservation cost. As for the statement about the number of orders delivered has to do with the fact that the company is starting from the ground up. OK, maybe not Fisker, but Faraday Future. Also, read IEVs early comments on Audi and VW’s many false starts.

Dan makes another relevant point above. Cars, trucks, and heavy vehicles will be more specialized. Nickola Motors specialty will be long halls. A battery may compete against a long hall hydrogen, but hydrogen can’t compete against short and medium-haul trucks. Fleet managers won’t be emotional, they will simply do the math.

None of them are orders. Stop using the terms orders or pre-orders. Unless you have payed or a written contract that you will pay sometime in the future there is no order or per-order.

Order value and pre-order value is zero for Nikola.

What they have is zero cost reservations.

Sounds credible, but such claim doesn’t pass real life smell test when you think about it.

There are many thousands industrial vehicles in warehouses in the US and the world. The all don’t go any long distances, but work in the same warehouse day over day. Electricity is cheap in North America, and all these vehicles were traditionally powered by batteries, whatever kind of batteries are cheaper to run.

Now they are switching from rechargeable batteries to hydrogen fuel in droves. Plug Power alone has some 80 refueling stations in the US, each dispensing 150-300 kg/day. Not a semi truck fuel use scale, so fuel is much more expensive than electricity.
Do you think it happens because some Koch brother and Big Oil conspiracy to undermine holy batteries? No, it is just business, no emotions. It is much cheaper to operate your equipment whole 2-3 shifts than to pay wages while it is charging doing nothing, and use your warehouse area for charging and/or battery swapping rooms. Just refuel in minutes and you are back in business.
USPS has done the switch recently in their Washington DC distribution center. Payoff period? Less than 2 years. Obviously other USPS distribution centers will follow.

@M Hovis

* haul, not hall

Your math leaves out the weight advantage a Nikola semi has over a Tesla semi with its very heavy batteries, which allows the Nikola to haul a heavier payload in the trailer increasing their revenue/profit on a delivery run.

A better comparison would be all those “reservations” Elon claimed the Powewall received that required customers to only submit their email on Tesla’s website and required no monetary deposit.

Hydrogen tanks aren’t all that light either. And if it ends up with a 5% – 10% payload capacity advantage, that won’t make up for the much higher costs of operation.

Exactly: Tesla talked about *reservations* for the Powerwall, not about “orders” worth virtual billions…

While the refundable Tesla Semi reservations are not exactly binding either, the non-trivial deposits proves some level of commitment; while the zero-cost Nikola reservations do not require any commitment at all, and thus claiming they are “orders” is disingenuous — only a tiny fraction (if any) of these reservation holders will actually ever buy anything. If it doesn’t cost fleet managers anything to hedge their bets, it’s a good idea to do so, no matter how unlikely they think Nikola will actually come up with a viable product…

Nikola did collected deposits from the beginning. As they are startup that may or may not survive, it requires some skin the game to make a deposit even if it is refundable in theory. So they already had enough proof of demand for their product a while ago, they just need to provide the product now.

Later they refunded all the deposits, saying that basically they are not some pyramid scheme to use deposit money to scale the company. You can keep deposits in separate account that is somewhat protected in case of bankruptcy, but what is the point of deposits if it is not crowdfunding scheme.

Or maybe they every only got five deposits and decided to take free reservations instead because of it?…

They already have Anheuser-Busch full fleet and US Xpress commitment. They don’t need to fish for any more deposits at this time. They should focus to execute their plans and to show real competitive product, not to impress some fans or pump stock out of thin air.

“the non-trivial deposits proves some level of commitment”

No way those companies are giving junk-rated Tesla hundreds of thousands to low millions to spend as they see fit. If they put any deposit up at all, which I doubt, they’ll put it into some kind of segregated escrow account. That doesn’t represent any meaningful commitment.

You are missing the point. Putting up significant money (with no interest) is a serious commitment, even if they are confident it won’t get lost.

They get the interest from the escrow account.

Tesla has two working prototypes which clearly demonstrate the technology is workable. The fact that Tesla hasn’t yet shown a production prototype doesn’t alter that fact.

The jury is still out as to whether trucking fleet operators can operate Tesla Semi Trucks at a profit, but at least we know they do work, that Tesla can build them, and Tesla has demonstrated they can recharge them in a practical manner.

None of that is true for Nikola. It’s quite easy to show, using either economics or science, that their claims for costs (of both fuel and fueling station construction) are so absurd as to qualify as either wishful thinking or an outright scam.

Pu-Pu said:
“Tesla has demonstrated they can recharge them in a practical manner.”

No, they have not. Sending a crew ahead of a Tesla Semi to cone off and reserve a dozen Superchargers, and then using cobbled-together, jerry-rigged charging cords to plug into a half-dozen Superchargers at once is NOT recharging in a practical matter. In fact, it’s the exact opposite.

Impartial Observer said – “Sending a crew ahead of a Tesla Semi to cone off and reserve a dozen Superchargers, and then using cobbled-together, jerry-rigged charging cords to plug into a half-dozen Superchargers at once is NOT recharging in a practical matter. In fact, it’s the exact opposite.” **IF** that was what they were intending for full scale, real world usage I’d be the first to agree with you – but that’s not the case. It’s using existing infrastructure to test prototypes in “real world” ways, without massive extra commitment up front. It’s also enabling Tesla to take Semi prototypes around the USA on demonstration visits NOW. What it does prove is that the Semi itself can charge at a rate presumably equivalent to several times the power of an individual SuperCharger, yes? If you say they are combining a half-dozen SuperCharger outputs, then would you agree it’s demonstrating that the truck itself may be displaying it can handle about 6x120kW – around 700kW – charging, therefore? Paralleling several existing SuperChargers may not be practical long term, but it seems the practicalities of high charge rate may have been shown. Elon Musk has stated his aim regarding a Semi, “……30… Read more »

It would be interesting to know who would invest in a company that promises $4-5K/month lease deals including 1 million miles worth of free hydrogen if the hydrogen cost alone would set Nikola back $20k/month for 100K/miles per year long haul trucks at current hydrogen prices.

I do see why everybody is signing up for lease deals for the sort of money they would normally spend on diesel alone though, everybody likes a free truck but I hope its clear to the reservation holders that Nikola’s numbers don’t even remotely add up and that those free trucks are not going to happen.

I’d imagine they expect to produce hydrogen for less than $20/kg.

Reportedly, Nikola is aiming for a cost of $2/kg… fearlessly defying the laws of thermodynamics, basic economics, and common sense.

Of course, if they really could do that, there would be no need to make and sell trucks. They could make billions or trillions just selling H2 at $3-4/kg.

Your link shows H2 from Steam Methane Reforming costs $1-3/kg (depending on NG prices), so it’s absurd to claim they could make “trillions” selling H2 at $3-4/kg.

Follow the link to this more detailed analysis (below) and see how he gets $2/kg with a 40%+ duty cycle and $30/MWh wholesale electricity pricing. Lots of large scale wind/solar PPEs come in at $20-30/MWh these days, and Nikola could take the less valuable off-peak electricity. These numbers all make sense, anyone saying Nikola is a scam because H2 costs $16/kg at some random retail location has not done their homework.

Doggydogworld – the link you provide for those figures is showing absolute “best case” scenarios in locations with optimal solar/wind conditions and (I believe) areas with little competition for land. Most cases of interest here will be further to the pessimistic side of those graphs. It’s also assuming bulk figures, and usage for ammonia production for industry – I read the figures are likely for uncompressed hydrogen supplied to an ammonia production facility co-sited? The reality for a network of filling stations for Nikolas purposes can’t make those assumptions. Some at least are likely to be in more built up areas (with higher land prices). Economies of scale are likely to further push prices up, and it’s one thing to simply supply one industrial facility on the same site, another to have to compress the gas to 700bar and have a reliable (ie safe!) means of distributing to trucks. Maybe – just maybe – one or two stations in some remote desert area may be able to live up to your dreams. Most won’t, and certainly in more northerly latitudes (all of Europe, for example!) those figures become hopelessly optimistic. But frankly, time will tell. In the meantime, there is… Read more »

Interesting: they are assuming a capital cost for the electrolysers of only ~0.43 cents per kWh (citing “private communications” as the source) — that’s *way* more optimistic than in another fairly recent study I have seen.

But even if all the assumptions they make are actually realistic, it’s not transferable to Nikola’s case, as others already pointed out.

Antrik – regarding capital cost for Nikola’s case, then interesting to read Nel’s own press release for the initial Nikola contract:

From that, quote: “To support the Anheuser-Busch fleet of trucks, Nikola and Nel would need to deploy around 28 stations. This order volume alone will have a revenue potential for Nel of more than USD 500 million.”

So roughly $20million PER STATION for electrolyser/compressor equipment alone.

$20 million per station, each with 16 A-485s that do 40 kg/hour. That’s 2.2 million kg of annual H2 per station at 40% duty cycle. That’s 45 cents/kg depreciation cost over 20 years. Finance adds a similar amount for ~$1/kg total.

*They probably plan higher duty cycle, but I chose 40% to minimize electricity cost by operating primarily when there is excess wind/solar available.

$1 per kg is about 3 cents per kWh — almost an order of magnitude higher than the study you cited seems to suggest… And much more in line with what I have seen in a different study.

Antrik: The study cited $30/MWh which is the same as 3 cents/kWh (It also cited a $0/MWh “surplus wind/solar” case and a $60/MWh case).

I’m talking about the cost of the electrolysis cells, not the cost of the electricity used to power them. (I’m converting the units to kWh so it can be contrasted with the electricity costs.)

But that is just capital depreciation on the electrolysis/compression equipment. Maintenance and labour will add significantly to that, as would all the associated land and building costs. All technically possible, but there just seems to be huge optimism over cost.

To look at it another way, let’s assume for those first 800 trucks a monthly lease of $5,000. (Reasonable?) That makes an annual income of 5kx12x800=$48 million.

But to service those trucks will be a capital spend of $500million for electrolysis equipment, plus the cost of the trucks, then all the maintenance and labour costs before even thinking of electricity.

And those stations are quoted as being to support the initial order – other orders are unlikely to be on the same routes and hence the 448 stations being talked about. Extrapolating, that would be a capital cost of about $9billion for those stations alone.

In a best case, just how many trucks, and what lease rate will that need to even pay back the capital in a reasonable time, before even thinking about any profit? Against a background of increasing competition from battery electric trucks? I simply don’t see it.

448 stations??? It’s 28 stations. Each has 16 A-485s each, so 448 total electrolysers. I’m sure Nikola has fantasies of building more than 28 stations once their trucks prove wildly successful, but that’s in the distant future (and probably in an alternate universe).

28 stations easily covers the US for an ~800 mile range truck (side note: range was originally 800-1200, now apparently 500-1000). And these 28 stations are obviously meant to service more than just the initial 800 Anheuser-Busch trucks, which would use less than 10% of their capacity.

I don’t think Nikola will make it, but that doesn’t justify making up random numbers and calling them a scam.

Doggydogworld – Thanks – and having checked, it appears the number I should have used was indeed not 448, but 700!! 🙂 And that’s straight from Nikolas website: . Quote: “By 2028, Nikola is planning on having more than 700 hydrogen stations across the USA and Canada.” (Third paragraph – “Nikola’s Hydrogen Fueling Network”) The 448 I didn’t make up, rather (erroneously, I now realise) got from the Nel press release referred to earlier. Sorry – I confused individual electrolysers with stations, but having previously seen Nikolas quote above then 448 seemed a sensible number of stations for the USA alone. Practically, that is indeed in the ball park I referred to, so the argument does still stand. But thank you for the clarification – my bad. What I would say is that the Nel report does seem to imply that the initial 28 stations are intended for the initial order primarily – the exact wording is “To support the Anheuser-Busch fleet of trucks, Nikola and Nel would need to deploy around 28 stations. This order volume alone will have a revenue potential for Nel of more than USD 500 million.” By which they will suit the needs of… Read more »

$2/kg hydrogen is great, problem solved. Meanwhile in the real world the cost of distributed hydrogen is more like $16/kg and (pro hydrogen) NREL puts the cost of hydrogen by on site electrolysis at $21,73/kg which is definitely a lot closer to real world hydrogen prices than that $2/kg IEA pulled out of its hat. The fact that even the wildly optimistic $30/MWh would put the energy cost alone of making a KG of hydrogen above $2/kg makes one wonder how IEA calculates its numbers.

Anyway, that’s undistributed hydrogen, distribution cost of hydrogen are tremendous, especially the cost of building and maintaining H stations. Nikola is fantasizing about 350 12,500kg/day hydrogen station vs the current hydrogen stations that can distribute only a couple of hundred KG a day, yet cost $3 million+. Chinese report on hydrogen estimated the cost of a 1000kg/day station at $7.84 million. Even assuming serious economies of scale that would put Nikola’s megastations at $50 million+? Nikola may have raised $200 million but it looks like Nikola needs to invest $17.5 billion in H stations alone to create a viable network for its hydrogen fantasies.

You do realize that is *never* gonna happen?

Nel, a real company that supplies electrolysers to industry, believes they can supply 28 of the stations you describe for $20 million each.

I don’t support H2 Semis or 1 MWh BEV Semis. I strongly prefer we wire one mile out of 10 on our interstates and major state highways. Dynamic charging is VASTLY more cost effective for long haul trucking, plus cars can use it as well. Point your 40 kWh Leaf toward the open road and don’t stop until you want to.

Source please for 28 *12,500kg/day* stations for $20 million a pop (sorry crickets I need to call on you again to stand by…). Turns out Nikola figures it needs 823 such stations over the next 10 years BTW so even if they could be done for $20 mil a pop that’s still a cool $16,5 billion.

Doesn’t matter what you support, I’m sure trucking companies couldn’t care less about the technological solutions that underscore their number one concern: $/mile. They will drag around happily large amounts of hydrogen or batteries as long as the numbers work but when it comes to hydrogen they don’t even remotely. If someone can beat Tesla’s solution with electrified highways more power to them, I’m sure all trucking companies will jump on the lower $/mile bandwagon. Don’t count on such complex solutions ever to become reality though.

Nel’s press release says 28 stations for $500m+.

Electrified highways would make sense if they were widely deployed *today*, or within the next few years at least. However, by the time we might realistically see meaningful deployment, battery prices will have fallen so much that it probably won’t be worth the effort.

“Your link shows H2 from Steam Methane Reforming costs $1-3/kg (depending on NG prices), so it’s absurd to claim they could make ‘trillions’ selling H2 at $3-4/kg.”

You are confusing cost with price, a difference which is far more important here than it normally is. The cost for merely generating H2 is only a small fraction of the price (including profit margin) which would be necessary once you include all the expenses of compression, transportation, storage, re-compression at the fueling station, and dispensing. The supply chain for H2 fuel is long, very energy-wasting, and very costly.

And of course, the price must include support for building and maintaining the very expensive H2 fueling stations.

That’s why the real-world price for dispensed H2 is ~$16/kg, even if it could be be generated for a (probably a very lowballed) cost of $1-3 per kg.

As far as making trillions: If you consider the potential for replacing diesel with H2 for all heavy trucks, which certainly could happen if the dispensed price was as cheap as $3-4/kg, then the potential for making trillions in just a few years most definitely is there. Sadly, that would require magically cheap H2.

As the proverb goes: A fool and his money are soon parted.

Apparently Nikola has found a lot of fools.

The established truck manufacturers like Daimler which by the way do have vast multi-decade fuel cell experience seem to disagree with Nikola on the fuel cell truck front, they are not deploying any fuel cell trucks, battery trucks yes.

They never tried BEVs. The point is that those who tried both, seem to go with BEV… That’s quite telling I’d say.

Here’s a new acroym for proposed H2 vehicles; FFCV = Fossil Fuel Cell Vehicle.

Nikola claims they won’t be using fossils.

(Though fuel cells powered directly with fossil fuels — rather than hydrogen — might actually be the most viable choice for certain niche uses…)

If you thought your Tesla Model 3 took a long time to arrive, Nikola seems to be an even longer bet. No idea about the actual truck availability, but 2028 for decent hydrogen refueling stations gives a bit of a clue?

We really now need to wait and see. The advantages that Nikola are promoting are longer range and faster refuelling time – the downside is extra complexity and the need for dedicated (and expensive) hydrogen electrolysis stations. I think what will be key will be whether Tesla are able to deliver on their promise of “30 minutes of megacharger time giving up to an extra 400 miles of range”. If they do – and I don’t see such being an impossible claim – it blows Nikolas “advantages” out of the water. I believe Nikola quoted a refuelling time of about 10-15 minutes for a truck? But presumably such needs to be attended by the driver? Whereas with battery recharging it becomes a case of plug it in and go off to have a break, so arguably megacharger charging can be actually MORE time effective!?! How many hours/miles would the average driver go between breaks? That is IF Elon Musk’s promises come to pass…….. And whilst Teslas timescales etc don’t always seem to fully go according to plan, then historically their record on tech specs such as range, charging etc seems reasonable? It’ll be interesting to look back on threads such… Read more »