We'll Likely Never See Nikola Motor's Super Electric Truck in Real Life

Nikola One 6x6 electric semi 1 photo
Photo: Nikola Motor Company
A few months ago, a new company called Nikola Motor came out of the blue and announced plans for a heavy duty electric semi that will revolutionize the way we look at trucks forever. It was so much better than our current diesel machines that we all felt like fools for not coming up with this idea sooner.
Well, that was on paper, because in reality, the Nikola One isn't that good. In fact, it isn't at all, because nobody's seen even a square inch of its body. As far as everyone's concerned, it doesn't exist. Sure, the company says it will unveil it this December (that's four months from now, in case you were wondering) and also claims it has already received 7,000 pre-orders for the truck that had a combined value of over $2.3 billion. Not bad for a company nobody really knows that much about.

The initial concept relied on an onboard gas turbine to produce the required energy, a setup that may not please the purists as it would still produce emissions, but we all agreed it was still better than diesels. Besides, the Nikola One came with 2,000 hp of electric power and 3,700 Nm or 2,730 lb-ft of torque from zero revs, so it had everything going for it regarding its ability to move heavy cargo efficiently. On paper.

Now, though, only three months after the first time this project broke cover and two months after the 7,000 pre-orders were announced, the company issued a press release. In it, it announces nothing less than a complete change in the vehicle's powertrain. No, it won't get a diesel unit, but it will use hydrogen fuel cells instead. A "custom-built hydrogen-electric 800V fuel cell," to be more exact.

Of course, this doesn't change the bombastic claims the company made about the truck. It will still be "more powerful than any other production diesel truck on the road and have a range of over 1,200 miles between fill-ups." Yes, on paper, which is where the Nikola One might live its whole life after all.

Tesla co-founder explained why fuel cells would never work in transportation, and it's all down to the energy equation, which is "terrible." "[...] It turns out that the amount of energy per kilometer driven is just terrible. It’s way worse than almost anything else you can come up with."

But Nikola Motors is pushing things even further. It claims it will produce the necessary hydrogen in "zero emission solar farms built by Nikola Motor Company. These solar farms will produce over 100 megawatts each and will use electrolysis to create hydrogen from water. Even our manufacturing facilities will be run off of zero emission hydrogen energy.”

Right. There's no timeframe on the solar farms, but Nikola Motors intends to have at least 50 hydrogen stations ready by 2020 across North America, so it would make sense if they were built sooner than that. It all sounds extremely optimistic and this major change in the vehicle's design will only raise more doubts. We'd be very curious to know how many of those 7,000 orders still stand after this new information was released.
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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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