There's a bit happening around the future of trucking, with ever-advancing autonomous and clean energy technologies promising to shake things up in a big way. And American brewhouse Anheuser-Busch has its finger on the pulse, its latest move in the area involving a pre-order of hundreds of hydrogen-electric trucks from startup Nikola Motors.
Responsible for labels like Budweiser and Stella Artois, Anheuser-Busch has quite a bit of cargo to move on any given day, and for a little while now it has been looking for smarter ways to do so. In 2016, it used one of Uber's self-driving big rigs to deliver 50,000 cans of Budweiser, and then last year it placed an order for 40 of Tesla's electric semis.
Coincidentally, Nikola Motors filed a lawsuit this week against Tesla, alleging it has ripped off its truck design and estimating a loss of US$2 billion as a result.
All the while, Anheuser-Busch has been working with Nikola Motors on developing hydrogen-powered truck engines fit for its purposes. That partnership has now culminated in an agreement to buy 800 hydrogen-electric trucks from the Utah-based startup.
These trucks remain an unknown quantity to some extent. Nikola Motors had a launch event back in 2016 for the so-called Nikola One, a clean-burning big rig with a claimed range of 800 to 1,200 mi (1,287 to 1,931 km) and a total of 1,000 hp (745 kW) and 2,000 lb.ft (1,475 Nm) of torque.
And it did share a video back in January showing the Nikola One in action, announcing that pre-production units would be available for testing in 2019. Anheuser-Busch expects that the trucks, which can be refilled within 20 minutes, will be incorporated into its fleet from 2020 onwards.
It says those 800 trucks will cut the company's carbon emissions for logistics by more than 18 percent, which is equivalent to taking more than 13,000 passenger vehicles off the road each year. It also harbors ambitions to run its entire long-haul fleet on renewable energy by 2025, while also cutting carbon emissions over its whole operations by 25 percent.
"At Anheuser-Busch we're continuously searching for ways to improve sustainability across our entire value chain and drive our industry forward," said Michel Doukeris, CEO of Anheuser-Busch. "The transport industry is one that is ripe for innovative solutions and Nikola is leading the way with hydrogen-electric, zero-emission capabilities. We are very excited by the possibilities our partnership with them can offer."
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