Outdoors

555-hp Nikola electric side-by-side tears through dirt for up to 200 miles a charge

Nikola's Zero UTV has evolved and added power
Nikola's Zero UTV has evolved and added power
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The Nikola Zero's finalized specs are even more impressive (or unbelievable) than the original specs
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The Nikola Zero's finalized specs are even more impressive (or unbelievable) than the original specs
Nikola will also offer a base 415-hp Zero
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Nikola will also offer a base 415-hp Zero
Nikola plans to begin dealer orders and deliveries in 2018
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Nikola plans to begin dealer orders and deliveries in 2018
Inside, the Zero has a tablet-like central infotainment screen and a 7-in digital instrument panel
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Inside, the Zero has a tablet-like central infotainment screen and a 7-in digital instrument panel
The Zero rides on suspension with up to 20 inches of travel
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The Zero rides on suspension with up to 20 inches of travel
The 14 inches of ground clearance helps the Zero fly over rocks and roots
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The 14 inches of ground clearance helps the Zero fly over rocks and roots
With up to 200 miles of range, the Nikola Zero will be good for a lot of off-road fun
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With up to 200 miles of range, the Nikola Zero will be good for a lot of off-road fun
Acceleration has slowed from previous estimates, but we don't think drivers will be complaining 
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Acceleration has slowed from previous estimates, but we don't think drivers will be complaining 
Nikola presents the latest specs and design of the Zero side-by-side 
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Nikola presents the latest specs and design of the Zero side-by-side 
The front-end has been restyled noticeably from the prototype Nikola showed last year 
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The front-end has been restyled noticeably from the prototype Nikola showed last year 
Nikola presents the latest specs and design of the Zero side-by-side 
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Nikola presents the latest specs and design of the Zero side-by-side 
Nikola showed this Zero prototype last year
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Nikola showed this Zero prototype last year
This prototype is noticeably squarer and simpler than the latest Zero design 
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This prototype is noticeably squarer and simpler than the latest Zero design 
Nikola Zero 2016 prototype
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Nikola Zero 2016 prototype
Nikola Zero 2016 prototype
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Nikola Zero 2016 prototype
The rear-end on the latest Zero design has evolved much from this earlier design
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The rear-end on the latest Zero design has evolved much from this earlier design
The Nikola One sleeper cabin includes a touchscreen control center
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The Nikola One sleeper cabin includes a touchscreen control center
The One sleeper compartment with two bunks
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The One sleeper compartment with two bunks
The One sleeper compartment with two bunks
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The One sleeper compartment with two bunks
The One sleeper compartment with two bunks
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The One sleeper compartment with two bunks
The top bunk can also be replaced with storage
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The top bunk can also be replaced with storage
Ambient lighting adds to the style of the One sleeping area
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Ambient lighting adds to the style of the One sleeping area
Nikola's Zero UTV has evolved and added power
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Nikola's Zero UTV has evolved and added power

When Nikola Motors started advertising outrageous specs for its Zero all-electric side-by-side, we figured there was no way those specs would survive the journey to market. A 520-hp figure may sound plenty normal for sports car, but it's pretty out there for a side-by-side. However, not only have the Zero's off-the-charts specs survived as Nikola prepares for production, some have actually grown. The spec sheet now includes well more than triple the horsepower of the current power leader, more battery power than a Tesla Model S 100D and a price tag equivalent to a Model 3.

Nikola announced the Zero's final specifications this week ahead of the opening of dealership orders in January 2018. Prior to that date, it will host a dealership ride and drive event in Southern Utah, giving dealers the opportunity to see what a 555-hp UTV can do in the dirt.

The 400-volt Zero will be available with two four-motor powertrain options, both quite extreme by UTV standards: the baseline 415 hp setup packs 368 lb-ft, and Nikola has become fond of advertising the 3,675 lb-ft torque figure that comes after the 10:1 gear reduction. If that's not enough, buyers can step up to the 555-hp/490 lb-ft option.

The 14 inches of ground clearance helps the Zero fly over rocks and roots
The 14 inches of ground clearance helps the Zero fly over rocks and roots

The big, 555-hp option is a leap up from the already large 520-hp figure Nikola had been using since first revealing its plans in 2016, and both are quite far beyond the current power levels of other performance UTVs. The UTV market still has plenty of models with double-digit power figures, and the Can-Am Maverick X3 Turbo R is claimed to be the most powerful factory-built side-by-side out there right now with its 172 hp. The Polaris RZR XP Turbo follows closely behind with 168 hp, and we had a pretty damn good time in a Yamaha YXZ1000R with a mere 90 hp on tap. Needless to say, 555 hp is a crazy leap up the power ladder.

"The advantage of the electric motor is that you only use what you need, when you need it," the company explains on its website. "You are not penalized by having electric motors with greater horsepower and torque. The motors only take the exact amount of energy they need to perform as directed and not a kilowatt more. So when you need that extra horsepower and torque to climb a hill or tow, you have it. When you don't need it, you don't use it."

The Zero's spec list has also filled out in the battery department, growing from the initial 50-kWh battery to multiple lithium-ion options topping out at 125 kWh, larger than any electric passenger car currently on the US market and right up there with the Lucid Air's planned 400-mile (644 km), 130-kWh pack. We guess battery reserves are potentially more important when you're sending 555 horses galloping into canyon-lined deserts and forested middle-of-nowheres than they are on highways, so perhaps the extra capacity is understandable. Nikola says you can expect up to 200 miles (322 km/h) of range when driving in 4x4 mode. The other battery options are a 75-kWh and 100-kWh.

One spec that hasn't changed for the better is the Zero's 0-60 mph (96.5 km/h) time, which Nikola is now listing at 3.9 seconds, close to a second behind the "around three seconds" it was touting last year. Despite all the Zero's electric torque, that's also only half a second better than the aforementioned Can-Am Maverick X3 Turbo R.

Inside, the Zero has a tablet-like central infotainment screen and a 7-in digital instrument panel
Inside, the Zero has a tablet-like central infotainment screen and a 7-in digital instrument panel

Beyond just sheer battery and motor power, the Zero will have a host of other advanced features. The standard equipment package is set to include front and rear suspension with 20 in (508 mm) of travel, 14 in (356 cm) of ground clearance, 32-in tires on beadlock wheels, electric power steering and LED headlights. Options will include 4x4 torque vectoring, anti-lock brakes, traction control, anti-roll protection, and front and rear 4,500-lb (2,040-kg) winches. A standard 10-in infotainment display will put monitoring and control at the driver's fingertips, and an available audio system will add a soundtrack. A 4-kW solar charging system will also be offered as an option.

The latest renderings show design evolution from the prototype Nikola showed last year. The more styled front-end includes redesigned headlights and a new grille. The rear styling has been tightened and includes more defined taillights, and the roll cage has a few extra angles and joints to it. All in all, it's a more polished, production-ready look.

Nikola presents the latest specs and design of the Zero side-by-side 
Nikola presents the latest specs and design of the Zero side-by-side 

The Zero will start at $35,000 when it comes to market, and Nikola is planning to begin deliveries in 2018. We're still maintaining our skepticism about this one until it's actually available (and maybe until we've actually ridden it), but so far Nikola appears to be moving forward steadily.

As you might recall, Nikola is also hard at work on a hydrogen fuel cell semi truck called the One. Not only does that truck promise to help scrub the stench of diesel from highways, it also promises to be pretty damn cozy for those driving it, as renderings of its sleeper cabin revealed this month show. With its sleek layout of dual bunks, Wi-Fi, central control tablet, ambient lighting, TV, microwave and more, the One looks as much a cozy RV as a big rig.

The One sleeper compartment with two bunks
The One sleeper compartment with two bunks

You can see more of both the Zero UTV and the One sleeper compartment in the photo gallery.

Source: Nikola

11 comments
Daishi
I'm with you on the skepticism a bit. Even the 415 hp base model is nuts for an ATV. With as much torque as electrics make off the line I almost wonder how difficult it would be to control it without heavy electronic governance. The penalty isn't super high but there is some penalty in range to use a motor with that much HP and running it at a fraction of the capacity. An engineer (Wally Rippel) who worked on the induction motors in EV1 and Tesla wrote a blog post where he covered some of the tradeoffs of using high HP brushless motors when you are only using a fraction of the power most of the time. It's a pretty worthwhile read if you are into that sort of thing: https://www.tesla.com/blog/induction-versus-dc-brushless-motors
VincentWolf
Awesome. Gas engines are so obsolete. So dirty. So noisy. So vibrating. So flammable. Go electric you'll be glad you did.
Derek Howe
I look forward to the day when EV's are cheaper then their ICE counterparts...but clearly, that day is several years away. This thing is pretty cool, good range options, but the price is nuts, they won't sell very many.
guzmanchinky
I can't wait until this is the norm.
over_there
with all that battery wont this be rediculously heavy for this kind of buggy ?
Daishi
@Derek Howe I don't think affordable is the target. It's a decently safe assumption that their business plan involves producing a high end version at low volume while they get things rolling and then iterate on less expensive designs manufactured in larger volume from there. I think that's the most logical way to go about this sort of thing unless you are backed by a major manufacturer or a massive amount of capital and you can skip that step. The absurd amount of HP is how engineers do marketing. It's not that anyone needs that much HP in a side by side it's about sending a message that says "Oh BRP has a 172 HP side by side? That's cute". Granted with some modularity for attachments it might be a suitable replacement for a small farm tractor at some things.
toyhouse
You know, a lot of this market targets competition. Maybe I missed it in the story but the weight alone would be it's death in real off-road conditions I would think. It has to be a pig with battery weight. And all the power in the world isn't going to help you if you can't use it. That said, maybe it has a life on the farm somewhere or for other uses I've not thought of. But I'd like to see it compete against gas. At some place like the hammers. And not to see it fail, but out of genuine curiosity. To be honest, at the asking price, I doubt they'll see a lot of business in this niche market at the moment. But my mind is always open as someone can come along and change everything. It's happened before.
Grunchy
Seems kind of tall, narrow, and stubby to be running 555 hp or even 60 mph for that matter.
ljaques
I think that half the battery and 120hp would have put that thing into rocket mode. I hope they offer a less expensive downgraded model with longer miles. There is no reason for a buggy which can spit 300-foot rooster tails as it takes off. Well, once, maybe, but not after that. ;) Those look like a ton of fun. Me want.
Donald Wright
Nice machine but too powerful for My personal use. As mentioned, by Daishi, so much power is useless if you use a fraction of it. However, when you need it, you got it. Electric motor efficiency is at its highest when use at maximum power. A torque at low speed, no combustible engine will give you that. The price, I still do not understand why it is so expensive. From my point of you, there is so much less mechanical rotating parts than en gas engines that it should be cheaper to manufacture!?! Maybe it's the batteries, 75 kWh driving this machine normally will drive you far and it's 2x the capacity of a Nissan Leaf! Or is it the IP-67 water proof parts! Overall, I like the machine and hope that Nikola Motor will sell a lot!