Nikola Motors Gives Up on Battery-Powered Semi in Favor of Hydrogen
Big changes make Nikola Motors appear less surefootedby Mark McNabb, on
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.
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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.
Read our full review on the Nikola One here.
Source: Nikola Motor Company