Automotive

From render to reality: Nikola One inches closer to production

From render to reality: Nikola...
The Nikola One hydrogen fuel cell truck was revealed at the brand's event in Salt Lake City on December 1
The Nikola One hydrogen fuel cell truck was revealed at the brand's event in Salt Lake City on December 1
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The Nikola One is powered by hydrogen fuel cell technology
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The Nikola One is powered by hydrogen fuel cell technology
The Nikola One at the reveal event in Salt Lake City on December 1
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The Nikola One at the reveal event in Salt Lake City on December 1
The Nikola One hydrogen fuel cell truck was revealed at the brand's event in Salt Lake City on December 1
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The Nikola One hydrogen fuel cell truck was revealed at the brand's event in Salt Lake City on December 1
The new Nikola One in profile 
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The new Nikola One in profile 
The c-shaped running lights on the Nikola One share similarities with Renault design
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The c-shaped running lights on the Nikola One share similarities with Renault design
The launch in Salt Lake City provided the first public look at a real Nikola One truck, not just renderings
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The launch in Salt Lake City provided the first public look at a real Nikola One truck, not just renderings
Nikola will announce a manufacturing plant for the One next year
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Nikola will announce a manufacturing plant for the One next year
The Nikola One hiding behind a sheet at the Nikola launch event in Salt Lake City
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The Nikola One hiding behind a sheet at the Nikola launch event in Salt Lake City

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.

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 Nikola One is powered by hydrogen fuel cell technology
The Nikola One is powered by hydrogen fuel cell technology

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.

Source: Nikola

Nikola Motor Company - Nikola One Semi Electric Truck Unveiling - Official Video

11 comments
VincentWolf
It's only a matter of time before the same thing is done for all train locomotives--replace the diesels which power the electric motors with fuel cells. They may be able to do it retroactively--simply ripping out the diesel motors and putting in the fuel cells where the diesels used to be.
Dan Parker
This is revolutionary; a game changer. I wish them all the best!
guzmanchinky
Self driving electric trucks would be so nice.
habakak
Good luck. But I don't think so. You need to start small and prove yourself first with a high cost and low volume product. Like Tesla did.
MattII
@Habakak, this is a high cost low volume product.
fb36
My view is switching from turbine range extender to hydrogen fuel cell is really bad decision. Buying hydrogen would be expensive and it is really dangerous in big quantities to carry around. I think repairs would be more costly also. Turbine on the other hand can work with many kinds of fuel for example. Think of gasoline, diesel, bio-diesel, alcohol, vegetable oil ...
LanceTurner
I don't know how many times it has to be said, but hydrogen fuel cells are not the answer. Virtually all man-made hydrogen on the planet comes from cracking methane (a fossil fuel) and the overall fuel cycle is worse environmentally than burning the fuel directly. Sure, you can use renewables powered electrolysis to make hydrogen, but it's inefficient, and using that electricity directly to charge EVs makes a lot more sense. With the rapid development of higher capacity batteries, the fuel cell vehicle is going to be obsolete before it even gets out of the starting gate. Any investment in FCVs is just wasted money. Even the hard headed Toyota execs have worked this out...
Milton
I'd rather see a large BEV truck w/ solar lining the trailer-top for a minimal range increase. I think the original founder of Tesla is working on something like that (minus the solar).
Drachen
That truck looks to be at least 6 to 8 feet longer than a conventional truck. It's going to be a huge pain for drivers trying to back into a dock thats a tight fit.
bfearn
Nothing in the article about the carbon produced making the fuel for this truck. Also nothing about the billions required to create a hydrogen infrastructure or the hazards associated with using hydrogen???????