Nikola Motor Unveils the Nikola One Truck, Insists It's on Course to Deliver

Just like any other emerging company, it feels like Nikola Motor came out of nowhere when it first announced its intentions about six months ago.
Nikola One presentation 11 photos
Photo: YouTube screenshot
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What set it apart from the rest were the claims it made. Nikola promised no less than an electric semi truck capable of driving 1,200 miles between fillups and offering more pulling power than any other truck out there using a diesel engine.

That's right, you read that well: it said "fillups," not charges, and that's because the Nikola One was going to be a range-extended electric vehicle using a gas turbine as a generator. However, only three months after the initial plan was released, the project took a 90-degree turn.

A rather short press release informed us that the Nikola One was going to switch to fuel cells for generating electricity on the go. Not only that, but the company was also going to build both the plants to produce the liquid hydrogen needed as well as the necessary infrastructure to have it delivered to the vehicles who need it all across the USA.

A mountain to climb

Needless to say, we weren't very optimistical about Nikola's chances to succeed. It just seems like an overly-ambitious project that requires too much initial investment for it to work. However, Nikola did keep its word about unveiling the actual truck in December, so that's exactly what it did last night.

The revolutionary truck - wearing the U.S. Xpress logo, presumably one of the companies behind the reservations worth $4 billion - came out from under the wraps in an event held near Nikola Motor's Salt Lake City headquarters. The host on the evening was none other than Trevor Milton, the CEO of Nikola Motor.

During the presentation, a few new things surfaced. For instance, the number of hydrogen refueling stations Nikola plans to build has risen from 50 to over 300, with the vast majority of them concentrated in the eastern part of the country. Construction is due to begin in 2018 with the first one being completed in late 2019.

There was no word, however, on how it plans to finance this mammoth operation, especially when you consider that Nikola also wants to build its own liquid hydrogen production facilities. During that August press release, the company said it plans to use electrolysis, a process which uses electricity to separate the hydrogen and the oxygen in the water. It claimed all power would come from renewable sources such as the solar farms it will build.

So, let's recap

So far, Nikola Motor has to build the hydrogen infrastructure, the plant that will make the hydrogen and the solar farms to power it. Oh, and let's not forget the actual truck, shall we?

Things are a bit clearer here, as truck manufacturer Fitzgerald has been designated to produce the first 5,000 trucks. However, Nikola aims to hike production up to 50,000 units via a $1 billion manufacturing facility, whose location should be announced next year. But with the truck expected to enter production by 2020, it's not time Nikola Motor is short of, but probably cash.

There are still a lot of unanswered questions regarding Nikola Motor, but perhaps we should give it the benefit of the doubt and hope it will be able to achieve everything it has set out to do. Just think of Tesla six years ago and how many people thought it would succeed, and look what it's done to the face of the automotive industry. Maybe Nikola Motor will be able to do the same with the trucking world.

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About the author: Vlad Mitrache
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"Boy meets car, boy loves car, boy gets journalism degree and starts job writing and editing at a car magazine" - 5/5. (Vlad Mitrache if he was a movie)
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