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The green machine: Nikola One hydrogen truck

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Nikola One Hydrogen truck 2020

The Nikola One is a new hydrogen fuel-cell truck made by manufacturer Nikola Motor Company. If the name Nikola reminds you of anything, we can help. The name is derived from the name of one of the most famous electro-engineers, who helped build the electricity supply system that we know today. His name is Nikola Tesla, so both his first name and surname are used by electric car manufacturers.

It is quite likely that the Nikola Motor Company founders chose exactly that name for their car manufacturing company as a slight wave in Tesla Motor Company’s direction. Another similarity between the companies is their ambitious goals, Tesla really did boost the electric car business. We are sure that Nikola plans to do the same, if they will succeed is a second. Since this company has only gone public in May 2016 with their plans, until now they haven’t really had the chance to prove their worth yet.

Achievements

One thing Nikola has achieved is to meet their first deadline of December 2nd, 2016, on which they aspired to build a functioning prototype of their latest project the Nikola One. Mind you, the Nikola One was supposed to be a hybrid electric and autonomous-ready truck, but along the way Nikola changed paths and decided to make the Nikola One a hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle.
Nikola One hydrogen fuel-cell truck front

Nikola One technical specifications

So, the Nikola One is a hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle and the veil was lifted on a (supposedly) fully functioning prototype this December. What more can we expect of this truck?

For starters, the truck will have no emissions whatsoever, since hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles only emit pure water vapour. The truck will have between 800 and 1200 miles (1250 and 1930 km) range on one refill of hydrogen. Its electric motor will make traditional fuel obsolete, but will still be able to make 1000 horsepower. This is nearly double of what any diesel-fueled class 8 truck can make on the road. So on top of the best fuel-efficiency in its class, the Nikola One also delivers much more power.

The Nikola One will feature 95% efficient electric motors, which use saving and regenerative braking systems. The regenerative braking will use the kinetic energy that is released when braking and storing it in the truck’s electric battery.

The Nikola One’s maximum speed and 0-60 time is almost double than regular diesel trucks as well. Finally, the Nikola one is expected to be lighter than regular diesel trucks as well. Not only will this save money on road taxes, this will also enable the truck to carry more load. Nikola expects the One to be 2000-5000 lbs lighter than regular diesel trucks, so that means around that weight will be free for extra load.
Nikola One hydrogen fuel-cell truck rear

Release date

The Nikola One is supposed to be rolling of the assembly line in 2020. The total amount of Ones that will be released then is 10,000, of which the first 5000 are going to be built by competing manufacturer Fitzgerald. This is because the US $1-billion production facility of Nikola isn’t ready yet, but is expected to be somewhere in 2017. When that happens, Nikola Motor Company will be able to build around 50,000 vehicles per annum.

Leasing program and sale price

The Nikola One will become available as part of a leasing program with a duration of 72 months. The lease includes unlimited hydrogen fuel, warranty and scheduled maintenance. At the time of the unveiling of the One prototype, the Nikola Motor Company already accepted reservations with a total of nearly three billion dollars. A total of 7000 Nikola ones have already been pre-ordered.

The leasing of the Nikola One will cost around $5,000 a month. Later on, the Nikola one will also become available for sale. Depending on which trim the customer prefers, the price will be somewhere between $300,000 and $400,000.

It’s good to hear that transport and logistics companies are enthusiastic about this all-new zero emissions truck.

Fueling stations

The fact that there are currently not enough hydrogen fueling stations will also be tackled by Nikola. During the press event, they released their plan to build a network of Nikola hydrogen fueling stations across the USA and Canada. Also, Nikola shared their aspiration to start construction of this network in January of 2018. This way, most of the fueling stations will be ready for use when the first Nikola Ones will start roaming the North-American highways in 2020.
Nikola One hydrogen fuel-cell truck interior

Nikola also promises that the refilling of the Nikola One will take fifteen minutes, which is only slightly more than the refilling time of regular diesel engine trucks. This is obviously a great advantage for this zero emission truck. Combined with the fact that it can drive for 800 up to 1200 miles, this truck offers a much bigger advantage over regular diesel trucks. The hydrogen fuel-cell truck looks a lot more efficient and attractive than the electric truck, which by the way, is still on Nikola Motor Company’s list.

Safety

The Nikola One offers the driver of the semi-truck all of the active safety options that passenger cars are getting lately. New semi-trucks and regular trucks are all exempt from these safety features, except for the occasional Lane Departure Warning system.

The Nikola one is completely designed in sync with safety. The cab has a panoramic view with small A-pillars to minimize vision loss. Then, there’s a fifteen inch infotainment screen in the middle of the cab, which shows a virtual aerial view of the area surrounding the truck and trailer, making blind spots visible. The aerial view is made up of the footage of multiple cameras, radar and sonar data.

The Nikola One makes use of 6X4 wheel drive with air disk brakes. The 6X4 wheel drive makes it possible, for some wheels to apply negative torque. In other words, each wheel can be powered individually for best road traction. The applying of negative torque, or torque vectoring, will make the Nikola One a truck that can stop faster than any other semi-truck on the market.

Nikola Two hydrogen fuel-cell truck side

Nikola Two

Besides the rather luxurious Nikola One, Nikola will also produce a less luxurious and more affordable semi-truck, the Nikola Two. This truck is designed more as a regular semi-truck, with the cab entrance directly under the seat and steering wheel and minus the panoramic cab view. Also, this truck will not feature the sleeper parts of the Nikola One, making it a practical day cab, for shorter routes. The hydrogen and electric motor drivetrain will be the same as that of the Nikola One.

Nikola Zero

Nikola Motor Company released another statement during their press conference of December 2nd. Their initial idea to produce an all electric truck might still make the cut. Named the Nikola Zero, the company expressed its wish to patent a 1,000 lbs (450 kg), 107 kWh battery pack for the electric UTV. The new battery pack should offer much more energy density and Nikola expects their electric truck to make over 300 miles of range on one recharge.

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