Nikola One Truck Turns To Hydrogen Power For Zero Emission Driving In US

AUG 30 2016 BY MARK KANE 105

Nikola One

Nikola One

Nikola One

Nikola One

The Nikola Motor Company announced four months ago a class 8 zero-emission semi-truck, called the Nikola One.

The prototype is scheduled for unveiling on December 1 in Salt Lake City, but the idea seems to be well-received thus far, as Nikola says they quickly received 7,000 pre-orders.

Editor’s Note:  We have not seen Nikola Motors disclose any of these pre-customers or the requirement needed for a pre-order.

According to the latest note from the company, pre-orders (if turned into sales) would pass 3 billion dollars.  Not bad for the startup that has, as of yet, only provided images of its vision.

The most important recent development is that the CNG range-extender on top of the 320 kWh battery, will now be swapped out in North America for a 800 V hydrogen fuel cell unit. The original CNG unit is now an choice for other markets with not-so-strong hydrogen infrastructures.  Perhaps the CNG version will also be a US/Canadian option still if requested.

Nikola Motors also states that some of the hydrogen infrastructure will be also build by the company, of which they would like to install a nationwide network of over 50 stations by 2020.

Hydrogen at these future station will be produced from electrolysis of water using solar electricity (the plan is to have more than 100 MW capacity at each station).

The Nikola One published specs state that the total range for the truck will be over 1,200 miles (1,900+ km), and that its truck will therefore never need to plug-in, although one still could in a pinch.

nikola_one_10-87a4458ec7068a27e4fb41f4f9f91d4f9137d5ce938b9b917021f02663db242fTo us, hydrogen-fueled trucks have always sounded more rational than hydrogen cars (given the limitation of the total range vs available stations on non-major routes);  but then again, no one has ever actually brought vehicles and infrastructure like this to market, and one questions if Nikola is the right company (with deep enough pockets) to make it happen.

“Nikola (pronounced Neek-oh-la) Motor Company recently announced that it achieved zero emissions with its electric-powered drivetrain. At that time, details about how Nikola achieved zero emissions were kept confidential pending finalization of key supplier agreements.

Today, Nikola is announcing that the electric drivetrain used in the U.S. and Canadian markets will be powered by a custom-built hydrogen-electric 800V fuel cell. Nikola’s hydrogen class 8 trucks will be more powerful than any other production diesel truck on the road and have a range of over 1,200 miles between fill-ups. It will achieve nearly 20 MPG with zero emissions under full load, surpassing all the government mandates set forth for the next 10 years, including the EPA’s recently announced Phase 2 GHG standards.”

“More information will be announced about Nikola’s nationwide sales, service and warranty network in the coming weeks. Please see Nikola’s website for more information on the location of the future hydrogen stations. The CNG turbine version of the Nikola One will be available for other countries where hydrogen is not readily available.”

Nikola One Electric Truck

Nikola One Electric Truck

Trevor Milton, CEO, Nikola Motor Company said:

“The desire to be 100% emission free in the U.S. and Canada is a critical piece of our long-term engineering and environmental efforts, not just in vehicle energy consumption, but also in how energy is produced. Nikola will produce hydrogen via zero emission solar farms built by Nikola Motor Company. These solar farms will produce over 100 megawatts each and will use electrolysis to create hydrogen from water. Even our manufacturing facilities will be run off of zero emission hydrogen energy,”.

“Nikola plans to have a nationwide network of over 50 hydrogen stations for customers to begin fueling by 2020. This will make Nikola Motor Company the first company in the world to be 100% emission-free from energy production to transportation to consumption. Say goodbye to the days of dirty diesels and after treatment in the heavy duty class 8 market,”.

Nikola One Specs:

  • 1,200 MILES RANGE
  • 2,000 FT. LBS TORQUE
  • 1,000 HORSEPOWER
  • 320 kWh BATTERY

We might argue that last point, as surely the “zero emission” solution from Tesla with its all-electric “semi transport project” – which is already testing today, and prototype to debut next year – seems closer to a reality than the Nikola One.

Categories: Trucks

Tags: , , , ,

Leave a Reply

105 Comments on "Nikola One Truck Turns To Hydrogen Power For Zero Emission Driving In US"

newest oldest most voted

Wait for it…. Wait for it…..

Why would they want a fool cell? Why would they want to be still dependent on Big Oil’s tit, etc..

Just throw in a 4,000 kWh battery and be done with it! Pure EVs are the only way to go!!!

Kidding… this is that I’m talking about. There isn’t necessarily a one size solution that fits all for all forms of transportation. While I think a pure HFC car isn’t worth it right now it could make sense in a truck or in a cargo ship. Who knows what the future will bring.

And since this is a thread about a HFC vehicle let’s throw in disparaging remarks about the Model 3 to get the Tesla fanbois all hot and bothered just like they seem to want to do for some reason…

Dogmatism is stupid. But actually heavy vehicles have the MOST to gain from electrification. And trailers are the optimal case. In every other vehicle class fuel cost is a lower proportion of total cost. Nikola themselves have been using this as a key argument. $40 an hour in the USA and 50-100% more in Europe is normal – and much more than the hourly wage of the driver. It’s the bulk of their operational expenses. By using hydrogen the cost advantage is not just destroyed, but reversed. Certainly if the thing is supposed to use hydrogen from renewables – since this inevitably means using green electricity and electrolysis, which is much less efficient than using electricity to charge batteries. While latency matters there are actually regulations that are supposed to ensure drivers take sufficient breaks along the road. To the extent that they do, this means there is already dead-time that can be used to recharge. 4000 kWh seems unnecessarily high though. That is the energy of ~100 gallons of diesel. Since the electric drivetrain is 3-4 times as efficient it would give similar range to at least a 300 US gallon diesel tank. While semi-trailers with tanks that large… Read more »

I wouldn’t count on a cost disadvantage. Skate to where the puck is going, not where it is.

If solar continues to decline in price, there will plenty of excess, expensive-to-store electricity available to make cheap hydrogen.

One trucks go fully autonomous, nobody will want to delay shipments by having trucks charge mid-route, so hydrogen makes some sense here.

No matter how cheap energy gets in the future, using it to generate hydrogen will always be very nearly the most impractical, most wasteful thing to use it for.

It’s not merely that compressed hydrogen can’t compete on cost with storing electricity in batteries. It’s that it also can’t compete with using that same energy to generate other, much more practical, much less expensive synthetic fuels. Fuels which don’t add expense and waste energy by requiring compression, special high-pressure storage tanks and pipelines which still can’t stop significant leakage, or fuel dispensing stations that cost millions of dollars to build yet service only 3 or 4 dozen cars per day.

All the “hydrogen economy” fanboi posts from permanent Tesla bashers like “Four Electrics” and zzzzzzzzzz won’t change that reality.

Not surprisingly there are some very intelligent people who don’t take advice or care what random people on the internet think 🙂


Self awareness?

The VOLT crushed the Hydrogen solution.
But ISIS is looking forward to be one of the first purchasers.
Massive hydrogen in city centers. Perfect.

65 mph and 8 mpg at $2.5/gal diesel means $20/hour. Local delivery drivers may be paid per hours, but long range drivers are more often paid per mile, $0.30-$0.50 per mile, and some taxes. Which yields salary that is a bit more than diesel cost. Paying per mile doesn’t mean that drivers will be running around chargers for free. There are regulations how long single driver can drive truck in the US, but unlike in Europe they are not strictly enforced and always followed in practice in the US. Batteries alone simply don’t have even close as high required specific energy, cost and recharging power sources to propel loaded trucks on cross continent routes. And you can’t add more batteries even if they would be free, as Class 8 trucks already run at the top of the weight and truck length limit that roads can bear, and reducing maximum load eats into revenues dramatically. Nikola One expects to have some 2000 lbs weight savings compared to diesel truck. As you have noted, dogmatism is stupid. Creating religion out of technical solutions and pushing “one size fits all no matter what” approach is stupid as well. There are transport applications where… Read more »

Ah, Hydrogen truck..

Despite that I don’t like FC in cars, I can see a reason for Hydrogen FC Semi.

Now, the problem is that where are they going to find the stations and how is this thing going to get across the country when there aren’t any H2 network across the country.

It is a bigger chicken/egg problem than EVs since EVs can start by fueling at home without the long distance network.

With range of over 1,200 miles, you wouldn’t need many hydrogen stations in the middle of the country. A few truck stops along major highways may suffice.

So, for long haul trucks to go from major distribution centers only…

I thought the point of trucking is that you can have door to door delivery potential across the country.

Aren’t these semi trucks more for long haul trucking tho?

Yes and No..

Depending on the route and configuration.

I guess they are aiming for strictly long haul. But they still need some major route coverage before this trucks can be popular.

I mean the market will determine whether CNG or H2 wins out. Both fuel are free if you buy the truck.

I like the idea of the trucks. But I have the doubt on infrastructure support. CNG infrastructure is well ahead of H2 at this point.

True. CNG is proliferating quite well, and hydrogen does not seem to offer that much of
an advantage over it.

I agree on that point.

HFCVs are twice as efficient as CNG vehicle. I can personally vouch for the fact that the Honda Civic CNG had lousy fuel economy for such a small car.

The Honda Civic CNG had a combined fuel economy rating of only 31 MPGe, while the

. . . while the much larger Toyota Mirai HFCV is rated 67 MPGe Combined. That’s actually over twice as efficient as the Civic CNG.

“With range of over 1,200 miles, you wouldn’t need many hydrogen stations in the middle of the country. A few truck stops along major highways may suffice.”

Nikola One actually says they are going after coverage of 400 miles between stations.

That is about the 1/2 of the lower estimated range of 800 per fill up.

Hydrogen infrastructure will develop similar to the current LNG infrastructure, defined long haul trucking routes first and then regional routes.

I agree that infrastructure is the crucial point here. It’s not like EV propulsion isn’t otherwise suited for large, heavy vehicles. In fact, the cost benefit becomes much greater. For a trucking company, fuel costs is THE biggest item on the expense report.

But they would need very large battery packs compared to cars, so they can lift themselves and their heavy load up a mountain. And their own charging infrastructure to charge the packs rapidly. Both of which mean considerable investments.

It shall be very interesting to see how Tesla will approach this, and when. Assuming their Model 3 adventure goes well!

ModernMarvelFan said:

“It is a bigger chicken/egg problem than EVs since EVs can start by fueling at home without the long distance network.”

No. The problem with using compressed hydrogen as a fuel is absolutely not a chicken-and-the-egg problem. The problem is much more fundamental.

The problem with using compressed hydrogen as a fuel is that it’s so difficult to work with, and by the time it’s actually dispensed into the vehicle it’s so expensive, that it will never be able to compete on cost with fuels which are actually practical, let alone compete on cost with electricity stored in batteries.

The cost of diesel is a major factor in the price of shipping via tractor-trailer rig. It absolutely makes economic sense to replace diesel with a significantly less expensive fuel such as CNG or LPG.

It makes absolutely no sense to try to replace diesel with a fuel which is, and will always remain, significantly more expensive.

LOL And pay a price higher than gas.

If you go to their website, they have map of 48 or so their own planned stations that will be enough to cover the US and south Canada with 800-1200 mile truck range. It is aimed for long range trucks.

If tesla has a prototype ready next year, the semi from Tesla can be bought in 2022. That would be faster than i expect them to be. Ans i expect nikola to habe a selling model by 2022, since it us their only market, they must go full power.

“320 kWh BATTERY” … “NEVER PLUG IN”? Why not?
The Hydrogen Fuel Cell Range Extender instead of a Natural Gas Turbine REx makes perfect sense (and cents since a fuel cell is more efficient than anything relying on burning a fuel i.e. a heat engine/turbine).
Automotive-grade H2 Fuel Cells are available now (Ballard).
Deployment of 100 MW solar farms and H2 Electolyzers are available now.
Why didn’t anyone else think of this?

320kWh is barely enough to haul the truck across Sierra Nevada at full load.

That is 429 horsepower hours

“That is 429 horsepower hours”

I don’t know what kind of units are HP hours.. but for a 1,000HP truck that has 65,000lb payloads going up Sierra Nevada at highway speed, you will never every bit of power you can manage.

Yes, it will take that much power.

I agree that climbing a mountain pass takes a lot of energy but the neat thing with electric drive and adequate battery capacity is that you get much of that back with regen braking when you go down the other side while saving the friction brakes at the same time. BTW, I checked Nikola’s website and they will be offering 50 kW charging at their service stations primarily to supply auxiliary power to the cab and/or refridgeration unit during a rest break i.e. no more noisy, stinky diesels idling all night!

” adequate battery capacity is that you get much of that back with regen braking when you go down the other side while saving the friction brakes at the same time. ”

You don’t.

I drive an EV and I have driven the same route, so I know for a fact that you don’t get nearly the same amount of energy back.

1. Regen is at best 60% effcient.
2. At hwy speed, even at downhill, much of the potential energy are eaten by the aero drag and rolling resistance. So, you only recover 60% of the remaining energy.

3. The best way to recover that energy is at relatively lower speed (below 40mph) and steep down hill.

I don’t know what the average recovery rate is from regen, but 60% sounds rather optimistic. I recall seeing a figure of about 35% some years back, but that may have been for only a single PEV.

They plan to have outlet to plug to keep it running overnight when driver sleeps. But you will need 35 hours to charge 350 kWh at 10 kWh, and it would give 100 miles or a bit more range for loaded truck, so there is little point to invest too much into it, especially when electricity from grid is not always cheap.

I guess that the 1200 miles is for the unladen tactor only. I highly doubt they get 1200 miles with a full load.
Anyway, hydrogen for trucks at least make some sense because the weight of a full battery would be huge. Then again how big is a hydrogen tank that can store Al this energy?

Hydrogen doesn’t make any sense. It is about on par with ICE technology, only much much more expensive.

Their previous idea of an LNG + battery hybrid actually seemed a lot more sensible to me than this. Although I of course want to see pure-electric solutions.


LNG is a fossil fuel. The point is to get rid of that.

But you could achieve the same result by using synthetically produced methane instead of natural gas — which is mostly methane anyway. If you’re going to use fuel as an energy carrier rather than an energy source — and that’s exactly what Nikola is claiming they’re gonna do, by using hydrogen entirely generated by electrolysis — then it would be far more practical and affordable to use that same energy to generate methane, which is a much more practical fuel. * * * * * It would be fun to pin a Nikola spokesman to a wall and make him answer questions about the practicality of building solar farms large enough to generate the amount of energy they’re talking about on a daily basis. And ask them just exactly how they plan to locate such very large solar farms close enough to the proposed massive hydrogen fueling stations to make it practical for them to be powered by solar energy. It would also be fun to ask such a spokesman just how much they think they’ll have to pay for buying or leasing that much land close to major highways, which presumably is where those hypothetical H2 fueling stations should… Read more »

It is 800-1200 miles for LOADED truck.
I don’t know tank size, but overall 2000 lbs less truck weight is expected compared to diesel truck. They write about liquid hydrogen, so it may be comparable to diesel tanks plus some space needed for thermal insulation.

A semi needs around 150 kWh/100km or around 2,7 kWh/mile. Based on the mirai 5kg->300 mile range and a semi needs around 5-7 times as much as a efficient ICE. So a semi needs around 100-140 kg H2 for a 1200 mile range.

Looks like more information is available that Nikola one is going to build the H2 stations and cover the country like Tesla is doing for the Superchargers… “NIKOLA™ HYDROGEN STATIONS Q: How many hydrogen fueling stations do you plan on having? A: We currently have 56 hydrogen fueling stations planned. We eventually plan to have many more, but these initial 56 stations will allow drivers to cover the entire country without worry of not having access to our free hydrogen fuel*. The plan is that once our stations are up and running, you will have a station within 400 miles of you at any time. That means you could pass up to 3 stations before you need to refuel, giving you great access to fuel anywhere in the country. Q: How many trucks can fuel at one time at your stations? How long does it take to fill up? A: Due to the fact that we liquefy our own hydrogen and then dispense it , our ability to fill trucks is only limited by the number of pumps at each station. We currently plan to have between 5-10 hydrogen fueling pumps at each of our stations. Normal filling times will… Read more »

They are also claiming of using 100MW solar installation to generation hydrogen.

That sounds like this company will need Billions of upfront funding.

Solar installations are unfortunately rated in such a way as to easily mislead. A 100 MW installation means that if you put the thing on the equator it could output 100 MW at noon, if there are no clouds that day.

Average output is then around 20 MW. Electrolysis being under 50% efficient, and compression wasting 30% of what’s left after that brings you down to under 7 MW. That means they could make about 7000 / 42 = 167 kg of H2 per hour on shiny days.

If they sell more than ten of the cars, they’ll be in trouble.

“That means they could make about 7000 / 42 = 167 kg of H2 per hour on shiny days.”

That is 1.25 truck per hour capacity? Or 8 trucks worth of energy per day? More than enough for 1 truck to make across the country.

Sure, it sounds like a marketing scheme. It is no different from powering the entire superchargers off the solar panels.

Q: Where does the hydrogen come from?
A: We don’t want to make any mention of that…

“…our ability to fill trucks is only limited by the number of pumps at each station.”

No, it’s limited by the extremely high cost of building a high-volume hydrogen dispensing station… which has never been done. Even H2 dispensing stations which can service only about 3-4 dozen passenger cars per day cost about $2-3 million to build. The cost of building a station which would actually be able to service a significant number of semi tractors for long-distance freight hauling… Well, I don’t have access to the info to do even a back-of-the-envelope calculation, but it would certainly make this scheme utterly impractical, for the same reason that (Project) Better Place was utterly impractical due to the high cost of building battery swap stations.

It would also be a major expense to truck in that much liquified (which means cryogenically cooled) hydrogen to those dispensing stations every day, using tanker trucks because it’s impossible or at least impractical to transport hydrogen fuel long distances thru pipelines.

This idea is, at best, wishful thinking.

Poo-Poo said:
“No, it’s limited by the extremely high cost of building a high-volume hydrogen dispensing station… which has never been done.”

Never? Bull$hit. There are already high-volume stations in California that fuel municipal transit hydrogen buses. A high-volume hydrogen fueling station for transit buses is currently being built in Ohio that will dispense up to “400 kilograms a day and will have the capacity to expand.” This jumbo 400-kilogram-per-day hydrogen station will cost only $1.9 million to build. The cost of the hydrogen dispensed at this station is only $4.63 a kilogram. So it’s less that twice the cost of diesel, but since the hydrogen buses are twice as efficient as diesel buses, it’s a wash.

The Mountain View, California public hydrogen station planned for Quarter 2, 2017 will have a capacity to dispense 350 kilograms of hydrogen per day.

So once again you’re just spreading hydrogen FUD because you’re shilling for Elon/Tesla. 🙁

Pu-pu: “I don’t have access to the info to do even a back-of-the-envelope calculation”

You DO have access to all the info and studies that are done. It is just that you pretend that they do not exist or can’t read and comprehend them. Or that Tesla cult members are not supposed to read heretic writings about hydrogen :/

And it is not necessary to transport hydrogen by truck. Nikola plan is to use PV panels and make it on site at least in some of locations, as far as I understand. PV cost at wholesale market is getting below $0.50/W and going down, and so Nikola’s expected retail price for hydrogen refueling for third party access at $4/kg is comparable with gasoline price when you account for higher fuel cell efficiency. Assuming 50 kWh/kg electrolizer, 30% loss for liquidification and 10% margin, it would require around $0.05/kWh electricity, which is certainly achievable when you don’t need expensive balancing service from electric grid.

Ah, the sweet, sweet smell of vapourware.

How well are the “mass market” hydrogen cars selling again? Oh, they aren’t?

How about those hydrogen buses that Whistler had built for the 2010 games?

I’ll see your 20 hydrogen buses taken out of service in Vancouver, and raise you 26,000 hydrogen buses being placed in service in South Korea. Correct me if I’m wrong, but that works out to a 25,980 net gain in hydrogen buses. Just sayin’. 😀

sven, the article you linked to says “CNG buses”, not H2 powered buses.

At some point, even the most ardent supporters of the “hydrogen economy” are going to have to admit that this will never catch on… because “fool cell” vehicles are so utterly impractical, and will always remain so.

The article I linked to clearly states that Korea is replacing 26,000 CNG buses with hydrogen fuel cell buses. The very first sentence of the article reads as follows:

“The government will replace some 26,000 compressed natural gas buses nationwide with hydrogen-electric vehicles in cooperation with Hyundai to promote the technology.”

In fact, the title of the article that I linked to is “Korea to Get Hydrogen-Powered Buses.”

Comprende amigo?

Sheeze! Are Tesla fanboiz so blinded with hydrogen hatred that their minds won’t let them register what their eyes read it if goes against their preconceived notions regarding hydrogen. 🙁

“Sheeze!” is right. Clearly you hope nobody will actually read what you linked to. This is a tactic typical of FUDsters, which clearly is what you’ve become. Just cite something that absolutely does not support what you claim, in the knowledge that most readers won’t bother to check your sources. How sad, sven; I remember when your posts were once worth reading. The article you linked to quite clearly says “Some 26,000 CNG buses were registered as of the end of January. The government and Hyundai want to replace 2,000 of them with hydrogen-electric vehicles per year…” Please note the “want to” qualifier there. That’s rather far from your claim about “26,000 hydrogen buses being placed in service in South Korea”. No, they are not “being placed in service”. Some politicians at a seminar merely talked about some “Wouldn’t it be nice if we could…” unrealistic plans for converting CNG buses to H2 powered buses; unrealistic plans which will almost certainly fail as badly as Toyota’s plans to sell large numbers of its Mirai fool cell cars; fail as badly as the California Fuel Cell Partnership’s even more absurd and largely failed plans to build out dozens or hundreds of… Read more »

Poo-poo said:
“sven, the article you linked to says “CNG buses”, not H2 powered buses.”

That big wall of text you posted above doesn’t change the fact that the article says 26,000 H2 powered buses will replace the current fleet of CNG buses.

If I read correctly, those buses aren’t there yet.
Not a single one is actually running.
It’s a project or a promise or whatever.
I think you count fast and false.

Correct. But I did say they were “being placed in service,” and not “have already been placed in service.”

What you said was completely untrue. Hair-splitting doesn’t change that. What’s next; will you be saying “it depends on what the definition of ‘is’ is?”

We get most of our energy from the Sun, and what does the Sun do, why it fuses hydrogen into helium releasing copious amounts of energy in various forms, light, heat, electromagnetic radiation, and spews that out into the solar system and beyond.
Damn polluting Sun.

Sun must be forbidden. It runs on Hydrogen and as Saint Elon has revealed to unwashed, hydrogen is evil and must be avoided at all costs. Close your eyes all Teslarians when you see this evil hydrogen ball in the sky and pretend it doesn’t exist, it is straight from Devil!

You really are a moron.

Jay, when is InsideEVs going to get a proper comment system? One that can block trolls and idiots, as well as upvote and edit? Yeah, I just described Disqus, and it makes going to other sites so much more enjoyable for participating commenters than here.

Hydrogen remains a bad idea because it is announced as green and coming from the sun but in practice it will come from dirty fossil fracking gas, oil or coal. I find it a bit a betrayal on the original electric semi truck announcement. This is especially disappointing because if battery exchange for cars is complicate and not a good idea, for trucks at the contrary it would be much simpler and a good idea. Why? Well because trucks have hydraulics on board that can allow them to unload and load a battery on their own from a much more simple unload dock where batteries just sit and charge. No need for complex systems in the type of the better place exchange station for cars or the similar car system that Tesla tested and ended after lack of demand. With a truck the protruding front box can host a large 450 KWh battery or it can also be located on the full length of the semi between the two U beams that make up the chassis. In each case the truck can position itself perpendicular to the dock and then push the battery, on small rolls, out of its body… Read more »

That’s a red herring.

Actually, in practice 46% of the hydrogen used to fuel HFCVs in California has come from renewable sources. Some stations sell 100% renewable hydrogen. Why does it matter to HFCV owners where the hydrogen used to make fertilizer and refine crude oil comes predominantly form fossil fuels? HFCV owners should be concerned about the renewable percentage of the hydrogen sold for transportation use, not the renewable percentage of hydrogen used to make fertilizer or refine oil. Boycott refined crude oil products and fertilizer made with hydrogen derived from methane. Judge the hydrogen used to fuel HFCVs on it’s carbon footprint/renewable percentage, not on how other unrelated industries (fertilizer & oil refineries) source their hydrogen.

sven said:

“Actually, in practice 46% of the hydrogen used to fuel HFCVs in California has come from renewable sources.”

Well “actually” that figure comes from the California Fuel Cell Partnership, doesn’t it? So “actually” that’s just propaganda from Big Oil & Gas. So “actually” we have no reason to believe that is any more true than anything you “hydrogen economy” fanboys post on the subject. It’s all B.S.

That figure comes from CARB.

Priusmaniac said: “…trucks have hydraulics on board that can allow them to unload and load a battery on their own from a much more simple unload dock where batteries just sit and charge. No need for complex systems in the type of the better place exchange station for cars or the similar car system that Tesla tested and ended after lack of demand.” A hydraulic system which can quickly move and precisely place a very heavy semi tractor sized battery pack into and out of the tractor, is going to be expensive, regardless of whether that system is located in the truck or the dispensing station. Tesla Model S battery packs were only about 1200-1300 lbs even when the Model S was new. By my back-of-the-envelope calculations, a semi-tractor battery pack capable of powering a loaded semi for ~750 miles, would weigh ~18,000 lbs with current battery tech. No engineer in his right mind would suggest equipping every semi tractor with its own battery swap mechanism. That’s like suggesting ordinary cars should be equipped with a long hose and a pump to suck gasoline out of the gas station’s underground storage tank, instead of having the station equipped with pumps… Read more »

I’d like to know how much truckers spend in diesel per year, maybe that would make a BEV an economic win as well?

G2 said: “I’d like to know how much truckers spend in diesel per year…” According to one source, a commercial truck typically uses 20,500 gallons of diesel per year. Current national (USA) average cost of diesel is $2.368 per gallon, which comes to $48,544 per year. If (or rather, when) gas/diesel goes back up to $4 per gallon, the price will be $82,000 annually. sources: * * * * * G2 asked: “…maybe that would make a BEV an economic win as well?” Did you bother to read the “COST ANALYSIS” part of my back-of-the-envelope estimation? The cost of electricity vs. diesel heavily favors the electricity. But the amortized cost of buying extremely expensive battery packs kills the economic advantage. As I pointed out, you can’t just compare the cost of electricity to the cost of the battery pack when the truck is new. If the truck is used as heavily as the average long-haul semi freight truck, then the battery pack will have to be replaced multiple times over the life of the vehicle. Since I have no way to know just how many times it will need to be replaced, there’s no way to do even… Read more »
Let’s do it again and take an in between calculation. I would assume a perfectly optimized truck which would reduce the energy consumption to 1 KWh/Km (1.6 KWH/mile). If we consider the equivalent of 5 Model S 100 batteries that makes 500 KWh total, which would be about 2750 Kg (plus rack wheels and structure about 3 tons), a still acceptable weight. Now on range those 500 KWh could give 500 Km (312 miles) of range, which would, with a midday exchange or recharge, give a day travel distance of 1000 Km (624 miles). Additionally there would be a small 50 KWh permanent battery to allow the operation of the truck during the unloading and loading of 500 KWh packs. This could give a close to optimum decent compromise between weight, truck efficiency gains, pack energy and cost to make the first ev truck feasible. The lifetime of the pack would with an energy service company, not be a real concern since the truck take another pack away at every exchange anyway, but it indeed comes into play in the price the energy service company (ESC) has to bill per used KWh to the truck driver. If we assume 500… Read more »

“Now on range those 500 KWh could give 500 Km (312 miles) of range, which would, with a midday exchange or recharge, give a day travel distance of 1000 Km (624 miles).”

We can certainly make different assumptions than I used to get more optimistic figures. Yes, the idea of a swap at lunch time did occur to me. But that means the truck has to be locked into stopping every five hours or so at a battery swap station. Not much flexibility there. Maybe trucking fleets would be willing to put up with such stringent restrictions, such lack of flexibility… and maybe they wouldn’t. But the ability to halve the size and, more importantly, the weight of the battery certainly makes the mid-day stop attractive. That would cut far less into the amount of freight the truck could haul.

However, I question that your suggested 1.6 kWh/mile figure is practical. That’s a full third less than the 2.4 kWh/mile figure I used. Certainly we can gain some efficiency by streamlining, but a 33.33% improvement? That seems overly optimistic to me. However, I’d love to be proven wrong there!

Yes 33% is a hard one but aerodynamics can be improved by going from a flat front to a bullet train like front. That is what Nicolas did rather well actually like some others also. But more can be gained by doing what is usually not worth it on a standard truck like still lower friction bearings, aluminum construction, magnetic suspension for saving on energy and covered wheel wells. The aerodynamics of the trailer can also be improved contributing further to a better mileage. Mercedes trucks did some good work on that. So it will be hard but I think it is feasible.

Some things that are favorable to ev semi truck:
– City and surrounding or mostly traffic jams operations
– Mountain driving where regen make energy recuperation possible and where brake pads are spared.
– Large rather low weight items. Cattle, cars, Christmas trees, mattresses, wood constructions, express delivery of single item.

Things that are unfavorable to ev semi truck:
– Constant high speed highway transport.
– Very heavy items like steel, concrete blocks, bricks, bulk liquids.
– Long in snow operation where snow must be pushed aside by the wheels (not to confound with cold weather that if affecting an ev car range, will barely affect an ev semi-truck range since the cabin heating is percent wise much less important)

So accordingly an ev will be ok or not so good for a certain use.

This makes sense, no NOx from turbine combustion, you make fuel right at the station…cool.

In theory, yes. But once you run the numbers it is clear that this idea won’t scale.

An absolute statement with no facts as evidence.

Teslarians don’t need evidence. “Musk said so” is ultimate evidence that is enough.

True believers never need proof.

Shill for Hydrogen sven’s bait and switch “logic” remarkably parallels Nikola’s bait and switch here on their electric semi.

Look, if Big Oil wants to fund a hydrogen “highway” system for trucking or light duty vehicles for that matter then by all means they are free to do so.

Instead they have been lobbying for the taxpayers to pay for this ultimately too-costly due to the physics involved and therefore largely unworkable solution.

Why? Because its a stalling tactic to slow down BEV adoption and its a perverse form of greenwashing in that it siphons off public resources for their highly inefficient pipe dream.

Meanwhile the planet’s overheating is accelerating tremendously:

Get Real trolls and carpet bombs virtually every single hydrogen thread with his anti-hydrogen FUD and hydrogen hate in his job as a shill for Elon/Tesla. ?

Oh gosh, you went and posted the Truth. That will get all the “hydrogen economy” fanbois after you! 😉

Get Real trolls and carpet bombs virtually every single hydrogen thread with his anti-hydrogen FUD and hydrogen hate in his job as a shill for Elon/Tesla. 😀

You “hydrogen economy” fanbois seem to be very, very confused about what are actual facts and figures, and what is FUD.

“If only the world weren’t governed by the unfair and cruel laws of thermodynamics and economics, the hydrogen economy could rule the world.” –- HVACman, comment at, July 8, 2015

For long haul freight, rail to hub. For medium and short haul, hub to destination using pure electric trucks. Use your solar to charge your hot-swappable battery packs the trucks will be using for INTRASTATE deliveries. DO NOT use your electricity to sacrifice your water resources to create hydrogen! Be efficient, use your electricity directly! No super complex or super expensive infrastructure needed. Imagine, a whole new ecosystem built around battery swapping and pack charging and servicing! Replacing the old fossil truck paradigm!

Agreed – it would appear that they are not thinking these things through in the big picture.

Should they not change the name to the Henry One? Or maybe the Hank One.

“The most important recent development is that the CNG range-extender on top of the 320 kWh battery, will now be swapped out in North America for a 800 V hydrogen fuel cell unit.”

Stick a fork in this, it’s done.

I thought the Nikola hybrid PEV semi tractor was an idea ahead of its time, but still I hoped they would prove me wrong and make a success of it. But if they’re going to cripple this by powering it with an utterly impractical fuel like compressed hydrogen, then fuggedaboudit. This company is either run by someone allowing his hopes for the future override all practical concerns and business sense (like the failed Better Place PEV subscription scheme), or else it’s a scam.

It is liquid hydrogen, not compressed.
Great Greenwasher shills and trolls don’t even read the source they are trashing. It is enough to notice keyword “fuel cells” and they will go on trolling. Who cares about technical details and merits, belief in cult leader is more important.

Up to that point, It would be a better proposition to have a diesel range extender.
It’s just a mature and cheaper technology than hydrogen.
The electric power train and battery would flatten the power need in hauling, regen in braking or downhill helping to save the diesel when the battery is depleted.
Hydrogen? Why do we have to complicate everything?

Plugin hybrids are fine for cars or short distance trucks, but long range truck is different story. They don’t just run 100 miles from warehouse most of the time but go cross country most of the time and need be on the road on demand all the time as time is money for them. The drivers may get home once a week or 2 weeks only and are paid by miles driven, not time wasted for whatever reason. Charging them overnight is overcomplicated, 240 V NEMA outlet can’t provide enough power. Charging from slow “quick” chargers at 1000 kW power is even more complicated and hopelessly slow and expensive. Nikola One battery is 350 kWh (4 times Model S 90), and range may be just 100 miles loaded. Can you imaging stopping long range truck every 100 miles at nonexistant quick chargers that would need to incorporate their own gas turbine to generate required power on demand as grid would not be able to provide it at reasonable cost? What Nikola is planning is the simplest way to achieve their goals of more efficient long range truck. It is too early to tell if they will succeed but I hope… Read more »

I like the part where they say EVERY station will have 100 million watts of solar panels.

Yeah? I’d like to see ONE station – at 250 watts per panel (assuming they have to use cheap panels as I did on my house), that means that the station only needs four hundred thousand solar panels.

400,000 large panels – I have 38 on my house which my municipality claims will never increase my property taxes.

I wonder what the taxes on a 400,000 panel complex would be?

I’m not even sure how you would photoshop that.

No need for photoshopping; here’s a photo of an actual 1 MW solar farm:

If I understand what the article accompanying that photo says, this 1 MW farm occupies 650 acres. 640 acres is a square mile, so this needs a solar farm bigger than a full square mile. (And that’s not even getting into the difference between installed capacity and daily average output for the solar panels. If you need to allow for reduced output on cloudy days, that would need to be a bit over 4 square miles!)

Are you sure that is 1MW?

I have seen 1MW installation before and they aren’t that big.

Is that picture of 1Million KW?

Typical panels are 250W. So, 1MW requires about 4,000 panels.

Each panels are approximate 3’x5′ or about 15 sq ft. So, 60,000 sq ft is about 1.4 acres..

That is the 1MW solar farm picture I found…

Very interesting, however, they said they need 100 times this. At each station.

And the liquid H2 thing is interesting….. Especially when the standards are 35 and 70 bar compressed H2.

At least it will be interesting to find ANOTHER vehicle that people can talk about vampire loss – especially when going through Texas or Arizona.

If they are going to come up with a proprietary scheme like Tesla, they are going to need Tesla’s financing scheme.

A solar field can produce 1 megawatt per acre.
So a square mile would be more than 500 megawatts.

Please take a photograph of one. Then tell me where the money came from to pay for it.

We are talking about energy per area, you made a mistake on your numbers.

I finally figured it out!

They hired Priusmaniac who told them they need at least 5,000 kw charging per truck.

If 20 trucks are charging simultaneously, there’s your 100 million watts.

“Nikola One Truck Turns To Hydrogen Power For Zero Emission Driving In US”. Oh dear…

“Hydrogen at these future station will be produced from electrolysis of water using solar electricity…” Oh dear, oh dear…!

Methinks we will *never* see such a vehicle on the roads other than a ‘prototype’ and it’s disappearance will rapidly be followed by the company’s – even if it gets that far. LNG Rex, fair enough, but now their publicity talk is drifting into la-la land.

If I had any financial involvement with the company I’d be running for the door by now.

Are they going to have their own network of solar panels then? 100 MW per station, at least 5 GW in total. Where are they going to put all these panels? They will have to purchase huge tracts of land to put the solar panels in and then run the wires to the hydrogen stations. How long will this take? Seems a bit excessive to me but what do I know. Of course they could do a PPA with another company but that would eat into profits.
It’s not impossible but it’s a big, risky and very expensive project.

Not impossible from an engineering viewpoint, but completely impractical from an economic viewpoint.

So basically they’re going to be stuck on A to B routes.

Real useful.

Not practical for independent truckers, but there are freight truck fleets which run trucks daily on fixed routes which could in theory benefit from BEV freight trucks set up for battery swapping or recharging every night.

But using hydrogen fuel certainly kills any possibility of it being practical or affordable. The claim that they’ll generate all of their own renewable H2 on-site by electricity from solar panels moves it even further into the category of utterly ridiculous.

Because “Musk said so”, and you Teslarian culties don’t need some stinky numbers or logic to make your mind.

I believe insulting many don’t serve any.
So please, cut it back a bit.