Big changes make Nikola Motors appear less surefooted

It was back in May we told you about Nikola Motors and its Nikola One – the battery-powered semi-truck with 2,000 horsepower, six motors, a 1,200-mile cruising range, and a “fuel agnostic” turbine engine set up as a range extender. The startup automaker claimed it already amassed $10.5 million from 7,000 pre-orders despite the fact it hadn’t publicly announced the project.

Well, now Nikola Motors has announced it is ditching the idea of battery and turbine power for a hydrogen fuel cell. Yep, all the hype surrounding the turbine-electric powertrain was for not. Apparently Nikola couldn’t make the system a reality. Now the company is turning to a “custom-built hydrogen-electric 800-volt fuel cell.” And this comes after an announcement earlier this month stating the electric truck would be a zero-emissions vehicle.

The truck is said to retain its 1,200-mile driving range and will achieve “nearly 20 mpg with zero emissions under full load.” It will achieve the goal of zero emissions by producing hydrogen at solar farms, each designed to generate over 100 megawatts of power. A nationwide network of 50 hydrogen stations is slated to be in place by 2020.

“The desire to be 100 percent emission free in the U.S. 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,” said Nikola Motor Company CEO Trevor Milton.

Milton says Nikola is still on schedule to debut the semi-truck on December 1, 2016 in Salt Lake City, Utah. Pre-orders have now supposedly surpassed $3 billion since Nikola started taking orders in May.

Continue reading for more information.

Why It Matters

Speaking frankly and for myself, the Nikola One seemed outlandish but somehow possible when Nikola Motor Company made its announcement back in May. The claim started to look questionable with the early August annulment stating the truck would achieve zero emissions, despite having a fossil fuel-burning turbine onboard. Now with the abandonment of the turbine-electric powerplant in favor of a hydrogen fuel cell system has removed nearly all hope this project will come to a true fruition.

Nevertheless, Milton and his company maintain the December debut date and are undoubtedly still accepting $1,500 deposits for the Class 8 semi truck. It’ll certainly be interesting to see how this story ends.

Nikola One

Nikola Motor Company Nikola One
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Read our full review on the Nikola One here.

Source: Nikola Motor Company

Mark McNabb
Mark McNabb was a contributor at TopSpeed from 2013 to 2018. Growing up, Mark always had a mind for tinkering on random items throughout his home and dad’s garage, including a 1953 Ford Mainline and 1971 Corvette Stingray.  Read More
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Press Release

SALT LAKE CITY. August 30, 2016— Nikola (pronounced Neek-oh-la) Motor Company recently announced that it achieved zero emissions with its electric-powered drivetrain. At that time, details about how Nikola achieved zero emissions were kept confidential pending finalization of key supplier agreements.

Today, Nikola is announcing that the electric drivetrain used in the U.S. and Canadian markets will be powered by a custom-built hydrogen-electric 800V fuel cell. Nikola’s hydrogen class 8 trucks will be more powerful than any other production diesel truck on the road and have a range of over 1,200 miles between fill-ups. It will achieve nearly 20 MPG with zero emissions under full load,surpassing all the government mandates set forth for the next 10 years, including the EPA’s recently announced Phase 2 GHG standards.

“The desire to be 100% emission free in the U.S. 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. Nikola will produce hydrogen via zero emission solar farms built by Nikola Motor Company. These solar farms will produce over 100 megawatts each and will use electrolysis to create hydrogen from water. Even our manufacturing facilities will be run off of zero emission hydrogen energy,” said Trevor Milton, CEO, Nikola Motor Company.

“Nikola plans to have a nationwide network of over 50 hydrogen stations for customers to begin fueling by 2020. This will make Nikola Motor Company the first company in the world to be 100% emission-free from energy production to transportation to consumption. Say goodbye to the days of dirty diesels and after treatment in the heavy duty class 8 market,” added Milton. More information will be announced about Nikola’s nationwide sales, service and warranty network in the coming weeks. Please see Nikola’s website for more information on the location of the future hydrogen stations. The CNG turbine version of the Nikola One will be available for other countries where hydrogen is not readily available.

The Nikola One will be unveiled on December 1, 2016 in Salt Lake City. Nikola Motor Company passed three billion dollars in pre-orders since it began taking reservations in May of this year. Attendance at this event will be by invite only, but will be streamed live on Nikola’s website. For complete product details on the Nikola One, visit

December 1, 2016 Event
Working media representatives should have already received invitations from Robar PR, If you have not, please email Robar PR for the invitation.

About Nikola Motor Company
Nikola Motor Company designs and manufactures electric vehicles, vehicle components, energy storage systems, and electric vehicle drivetrains. NMC is led by its visionary CEO Trevor Milton (twitter: @nikolatrevor), who has assembled one of the most talented teams in the country to bring the Nikola products to market. The company is privately-held. For more information, visit or Twitter: @nikolamotor.

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