Automotive

Nikola Zero electric side-by-side edges closer to reality with 520 hp prototype

Nikola Zero electric side-by-s...
With 20 inches of suspension travel, the Zero UTV should be able to cover almost any ground 
With 20 inches of suspension travel, the Zero UTV should be able to cover almost any ground 
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With 20 inches of suspension travel, the Zero UTV should be able to cover almost any ground 
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With 20 inches of suspension travel, the Zero UTV should be able to cover almost any ground 
The UTV seats four, but will still hit 60 mph in 3 seconds 
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The UTV seats four, but will still hit 60 mph in 3 seconds 
The solar panels on the roof add ten miles to the battery according to Nikola 
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The solar panels on the roof add ten miles to the battery according to Nikola 
The electric hardware is IP67 water resistant 
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The electric hardware is IP67 water resistant 
The Zero has 520 hp 
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The Zero has 520 hp 
There are motors on all four wheels of the Zero 
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There are motors on all four wheels of the Zero 
The 7-inch displays in the cabin can be joined by a bigger one 
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The 7-inch displays in the cabin can be joined by a bigger one 
The Tesla seats are made by a third party 
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The Tesla seats are made by a third party 
Detail on the new Zero UTV
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Detail on the new Zero UTV
View gallery - 9 images

Nikola Motors is a relative unknown in the motoring world, but that hasn't stopped it from making some seriously audacious promises about its upcoming hydrogen-electric semi and side-by-side. Now, as we edge closer to actual production, the full specification of the Zero UTV is starting to become clear.

When it first showed off a rendering of the Zero, Nikola claimed it would hit 98 km/h (60 mph) in less than three seconds. We were promised a 50 kWh battery, and 500 hp (373 kW) being shuffled to all four wheels through a torque-vectoring system. Oh, and it would cost around US$42,000.

In production guise, a few things will change for the better. The 50 kWh battery has been dropped in place of a 400V 72 kWh lithium-ion unit, and there's an extra 20 hp (15 kW) of power on tap according to the revised spec sheet. Considering the current, petrol-powered class leaders are only making around 140 hp (104 kW), the Zero should have them well and truly covered.

There are motors on all four wheels of the Zero 
There are motors on all four wheels of the Zero 

Beyond the sky high power output, the 645 Nm of torque being shuffled around the four wheels should help with performance as well. With 20 inches of travel from the Fox Podium shocks and 14.5 in (37 cm) of ground clearance, it should be able to hammer flat out over just about any terrain, too.

So far, the real Nikola Zero looks remarkably similar to the one we were promised in the renders. The promised IP67 waterproofing for the motors and electric hardware has carried over, and the dual seven-inch displays rendered earlier this year have found their way into the first prototype as well. There's also 400 watts worth of roof-mounted solar panels on the Zero, which the company says could add up to 10 miles (16 km) of range per day.

The 7-inch displays in the cabin can be joined by a bigger one 
The 7-inch displays in the cabin can be joined by a bigger one 

Pricing for the Zero will kick off at US$37,000 and the company is taking refundable deposits. Sure, that's $5,000 less than we initially expected, but it's a lot for a weekend toy when Chevrolet and Tesla have $35,000 electric cars on the way.

The other potential issue is Nikola's relative youth. All of this tech sounds incredible, and the fact a prototype has actually been built is some sort of proof the company is moving in the right direction, but one prototype does not a successful company maketh. We'll be monitoring the Zero's progress closely as it develops.

Source: Nikola Motor Company

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6 comments
Island Architect
A relatively inexpensive electric vehicle is most alluring. Add some solar panels on the hood and the rear deck and double the extra range. But you are right about the tesla/GM competition. Don't underestimate either. b
Milton
I question that ground-clearance figure. And I also question their choice to put the motors in the wheels... unsprung weight is a real killer to any off-road vehicle. This seems like an excellent "Monster Garage" build, but not a viable product. If it's for the dirt, it needs to look like it's for the dirt. If it's for the street, then the same applies. Right now it looks as ugly as all the other 4-doors, w/ funky proportions.
guzmanchinky
It's interesting, and I love the idea of a quiet side by side. However, why didn't they start with a two seater? And I wonder what that range will be in power sucking sand dunes...
Future3000
Next "dream selling company": 1.: "The Nikola Zero™ battery pack has 18,650 lithium ion cells" = best package you can buy today / near future is 4,5 kg/KWh. 2.: "projected to have a 72 kilowatt hour (kWh) battery pack but might be slightly larger or smaller" = best weight of 72 KWh = 324 kg! 3.: "Q: How much does the battery pack weigh? A: The weight of the battery pack will depend on the final size of the production model battery pack. We estimate the production model battery pack will weigh around 400 lbs" = 180 kg! So they promise to double capacity of the BEST 18,650 lithium ion cells? How? If they could do this, a Tesla S, same weight, would increase its range to 1.300 km without recharging! Show facts please, not "pre selling dreams"!
Grunchy
Forgive me but the shocks appear to have way more travel than the size of the wheels or the ground clearance. It looks like the tires are too small. 400W for the solar cell seems unrealistic: solar irradiance is about 1,000 W/m^2 at the best of times and real-world solar cell efficiency isn't much better than 20%, and worse when dusty; and the cell doesn't look that big.
Martin Hone
Wheels look way too small in width and diameter to be serious, and certainly not with that amount of torque ...