Nikola One Hydrogen Fuel Cell Class 8 Truck Revealed In Salt Lake City
Nikola Two Day Cab Announced Using Same Propulsion System
Nikola Motor Company founder and CEO Trevor Milton pulled the wraps off his company’s much-discussed baby, the Nikola One semi truck. Large and imposing, the Nikola One promises to be a game changer if the company is able to keep its production, infrastructure, and pricing claims.
Powered by a hydrogen fuel cell powerplant that provides energy to in-wheel electric motors, the Nikola One reputedly has a 1,200-mile driving range with 1,000 hp and 2,000 lb-ft of torque. Available with drive on either the four rear wheels or all six wheels, the system allows for torque vectoring for safer and more secure handling. The company has plans to open 364 hydrogen refueling stations across the country to provide coast-to-coast, border-to-border range for its trucks, and lessees of the Nikola One will have access to 1 million miles’ worth of free hydrogen. That could mean around 10 years of free fuel for most trucks, which will outlast the truck’s seven-year lease.
The Nikola One looks massive, but in actuality, it's only marginally longer and taller than other class 8 trucks on the road today. Its monolithic appearance is due to its extreme cab-forward styling, enabled by the low-mounted "pancake" hydrogen fuel cells taking the place of a big, front-mounted diesel engine. That cab-forward design also makes space for a 7-foot-high midcab door, giving drivers easier and safer access to the interior. Nikola says that a large number of on-the-job injuries happen when truck drivers are forced to climb into their trucks through narrow doors, resulting in slips and falls, and the company says its midcab solution will help reduce those kinds of injuries. Once onboard, the driver simply steps down into the cockpit, which has excellent forward visibility thanks to the panoramic, wraparound windshield and lack of a big doghouse-style hood in front.
In the tradition of the One's spacious, aerodynamic design (enabled by the compact hydrogen fuel cells and electric motors), the truck's platform is unique as well. Each wheel is independently suspended, which will provide added frame stiffness, a more controlled ride, and improved load performance. The rear air springs are mounted such that they absorb most of the load of the fifth-wheel hitch, relieving stress on the frame. The front suspension features integral dampers and air springs, and it will be available with both drive and freewheel configurations. A high steer angle capability will improve maneuverability.
In addition to revealing the Nikola One, the company also announced plans for the Nikola Two, a day-cab alternative to its bigger, sleeper-cab sister. Using a similar propulsion system, the Nikola Two will be ideal for local and regional deliveries, and it opens the door for vocational trucks in the future. The company is now taking reservations on Nikolas One and Two for $1,500, and to date, Nikola has raised nearly $3 billion in preorders.
The company also announced a new logistics program called Nikola Shipments. Milton explained the system as a sort of long-haul cargo Uber, with potential customers registering their shipments and Nikola drivers accepting cargo as desired. Nikola says drivers can set their starting point and destination, and Nikola Shipments will build a route based on cargo need, weather conditions, and other factors. Shipments will be controlled via a massive 21-inch touchscreen display in the cab.
Perhaps the most significant announcement made last night, aside from the Nikola One itself, was the partnership between Nikola Motor Company and Ryder Systems. The logistics giant will provide maintenance and service to drivers under Nikola’s warranty, which will last the duration of the company’s seven-year leasing program. Speaking of leasing, interested parties can plan to spend between $5,000 and $7,000 monthly on the Nikola One, which will include fuel and servicing. Milton also said the company would target a white-glove level of warranty service, with bumper-to-bumper maintenance and repairs that include tires, brakes, windshield wipers, and other consumables.
Appearing in the flesh for the first time in public, the Nikola One was revealed in front of an audience that included Utah Governor Gary Herbert and other local representatives, plus logistics industry big shots, friends of the company, and the press. It was warmly received, with logistics experts expressing interest in the zero-emissions, zero-cost fuel, provided Nikola can build an infrastructure. We’re looking forward to finding out the same, as we’d love to see these futuristic machines on our roads soon. The company has a goal to get its first trucks on the road in 2020.