autoevolution
Car video reviews:
 

Here's Nikola's Plan to Sell Hydrogen to Its FCEV Trucks – and Anyone Else That Needs It

On February 18, we told our readers some of the plans Nikola had for the Tre FCEV and also for hydrogen distribution. Jason Roycht shared that the company intended “to launch several public and private fueling stations across southern California.” Although that was already something from the global head of Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles at Nikola, we wanted more info about this hydrogen distribution network, and now we have that.
Nikola Two Refuels With Hydrogen 15 photos
Nikola Two Refuels With HydrogenNikola Two Refuels With HydrogenNikola's Plans for a Hydrogen R&D Center Before Plans ChangedNikola's Plans for a Hydrogen Station Before Plans ChangedAtmospheric Electrolyzer from Nel ASA Nikola Intended to UseNikola Two Refuels With HydrogenNikola's Plans for a Hydrogen Station Before Plans ChangedNikola's Plans for a Hydrogen Station Before Plans ChangedNikola's Plans for a Hydrogen Station Before Plans ChangedNikola's Plans for a Hydrogen Station Before Plans ChangedNikola's Plans for a Hydrogen Station Before Plans ChangedNikola's Plans for a Hydrogen Pump Before Plans ChangedNikola Two Refuels With HydrogenNikola Two Refuels With Hydrogen
Nikola originally intended to produce hydrogen and have stations across the U.S. to feed not only its own trucks but also any FCEV that needed the gas. After Trevor Milton left the company, it was unclear if the plans were the same. It seems they have not changed that much.

At the end-of-line celebration for the Tre BEV, Mark Russell said that Nikola would start mass-producing hydrogen “by the time that truck rolls out of here.” We were sure that he was referring to the Tre with a battery pack. Our sources at Nikola said that was not the case: Russell was pointing to a Tre FCEV prototype. The company expects to start manufacturing it by the end of 2023. That said, Nikola’s hydrogen distribution network will also begin to shape by then.

It may seem that the deal between Nikola and OPAL Fuels is the base of these future stations. According to our sources, that is only partially true. Some of the hydrogen stations with OPAL Fuels will generate hydrogen onsite. However, they will have a smaller scale than what Nikola anticipates the majority of its hydrogen production will present.

Nikola intends to make its hydrogen in large central hubs. At first, the hydrogen may be distributed to the stations with liquid trailer deliveries. The plan is to make that transition to getting gaseous hydrogen to the stations through pipelines.

For that to happen, these stations will have to have a demand that justifies the pipeline investment. In other words, Nikola’s FCEV trucks will have to be on the roads for a while, along with those from other companies. For Nikola, selling hydrogen will be another business. Although it will create the conditions for trucks running on hydrogen to become popular, it will also have to turn a profit to make sense.

In that sense, the PPAs (Power Purchase Agreements) that the company was working on when Milton was still in the company is still on the cards. We learned that Nikola secured an electricity rate schedule with APS (Arizona Public Service) that will allow it “to produce hydrogen fuel at or below highest parity with diesel.”

Our sources said that this is just the beginning. According to them, Nikola is working “on numerous other opportunities to procure low-cost power for the production and distribution of hydrogen.” Not only in the U.S., mind you. Nikola hired Michael Lohscheller to sell its trucks all over the world. So far, we know that it is planning these hydrogen stations in the U.S., Canada, and Europe.

In a way, Nikola’s plan is similar to that Tesla had with its Supercharging network. However, it presents a crucial difference: the stations will not be exclusive to Nikola’s products. As we said, they will also be a business. Expanding the base of clients is the smart thing to do to reach profitability as soon as possible.

 
 
 
 
 

Would you like AUTOEVOLUTION to send you notifications?

You will only receive our top stories