Having released details about what's powering its hydrogen big-rig earlier this year, Nikola Motors has taken another step towards being production ready. The startup used an event in Salt Lake City last week to show off a fully-built One truck, announcing distribution partners and service plans in the process. Thankfully, it looks just as good as the renderings promised.
The Nikola One is an audacious attempt to drag the world into the future of long haul trucking. Initially, the company said it would be powered by a turbine-extender electric powertrain, but changed course to a hydrogen fuel-cell in August. Along with the trucks, plans to produce hydrogen at zero-emissions solar farms were announced, adding to the intrigue surrounding the sudden switch.
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Although we're still not over our initial skepticism – after all, a number of brands with no experience in manufacturing have claimed they have a car to blow away the established players this year, but very few actually go on to make a meaningful impact.
On the surface at least, the Salt Lake City launch event on December 1 certainly improves Nikola's credibility – with a real example of the truck on display, not just renderings.
Claimed range from the hydrogen fuel cell is between 800 and 1,200 mi (1,287 and 1,931 km), and the six electric motors punch out a combined 1,000 hp (745 kW) and 2,000 lb.ft (1,475 Nm) of torque. Hydrogen consumption is expected to be around 20 mpg (11.7 l/100 km).
The truck leasing program announced at the event includes unlimited hydrogen fuel, a full warranty and all scheduled maintenance within a 72 month period. Although this is an attractive deal, a lack of hydrogen fueling stations across America could be problematic for fleets of truckers who need to be able to fill up quickly, regardless of where they are.
"The desire to be 100 percent emission free in the US 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," Trevor Milton, CEO of Nikola Motor Company said earlier this year. "Nikola plans to have a nationwide network of over 50 hydrogen stations for customers to begin fueling by 2020... Say goodbye to the days of dirty diesels and after treatment in the heavy duty class 8 market."
Although Nikola is something of an unknown quantity, and hasn't even settled on a manufacturing location for its trucks yet, buyers seem keen to get on board with what it is offering. The company claims to have reservations for three billion dollars worth of trucks so far, and is also planning to sell the 107 kWh battery from its Zero UTV to OEM brands from the start of next year.
We'll be keeping a close eye on Nikola over the coming months, to see if it can deliver on its promises. At the moment, CEO Trevor Milton is planning to announce the location of its manufacturing plant early in 2017, and construction of the hydrogen fueling stations is set to start in January 2018.
You can watch the full unveiling in the video below.