Nikola Motors Company USA has developed a Class 8 truck powered by a hydrogen fuel cell. The firm said this truck, called the Nikola One, will have an operational range of 1,200 miles. The company intends to release the vehicles in the year 2020.
Nikola One will be designed for longhaul transportation of freight. With a single tank of fuel, it can cover anywhere between 800 to 1,200 miles. The truck will provide 1,000 horsepower and 2,000 foot-pounds of engine torque. That is almost twice the power offered by current diesel-powered Class 8 trucks.
This hydrogen-powered truck runs on a fully electric drivetrain and is supported by lithium batteries. Batteries are continuously charged by a hydrogen fuel cell, and the cell requires recharging after it exceeds its limits. At the moment, not many hydrogen fueling stations exist.
The price of the fuel will be included in the lease cost of the trucks, along with servicing and warranty. However, Nikola Motors has not indicated the actual cost of leasing the trucks.
Right now, fuel cell vehicles work only where the infrastructure needs are minimal. Cities around the world have started operating hydrogen-powered buses, because you need just one place to fill up, not a whole network. Sandia National Laboratories researchers think a hydrogen-powered ferry service could work in San Francisco because, yup, you only need one or two places to fill up.
Trucks need more infrastructure, but not a ton more. Nikola CEO Trevor Milton says 364 stations across the US should suffice. They’d sit about 400 miles apart, comfortable range for a truck that can triple that distance. Milton bases that number on computer analysis of common trucking routes, and says his company would start by building up the network in one to-be-determined region in 2018, and spread from there.
Nikola One was launched in Salt Lake City UT recently. Milton, the company’s founder, described the vehicle as “the most advanced semi-truck ever built.”
The truck will also contain a smart dashboard that will chart cost-efficient routes for drivers. Also included in these trucks: full-size beds with high-performance TVs, wi-fi connectivity, LTE connections, a refrigerator, freezer and microwave.
Milton is planning to develop an independent production facility in the coming years. Nikola Motors will be competing in the Class 8 segment with Tesla Motors, which has announced similar intentions.