Salt Lake City-based Nikola Motor Company and German auto components giant Bosch are teaming up to build the Nikola One and Nikola Two—a pair of hydrogen-electric, long-haul trucks that will compete with the handful of other low-emissions trucks and powertrains that have been announced in mid-2017.
The Nikola One truck isn’t a new development, but the startup’s partnership with Bosch is. Last December, Nikola Motor Company announced that it would build a hydrogen-electric truck that would be able to travel 1,200 miles on a tank of hydrogen and deliver 1,000 horsepower and 2,000 foot-pounds of torque. The company said at the time that its truck, deemed the Nikola One, would be market-ready by 2020.
Now, that market-ready date has been pushed back to 2021, but adding Bosch’s experience into the mix no doubt helps firm up Nikola Motor Company’s projections. According to a press release from the startup, the class 8 Nikola One and Nikola Two will now be built on Bosch’s eAxle—an integrated unit blending motor, power electronics, and transmission. Bosch’s eAxle was only just announced this January.
The Nikola trucks will both pair hydrogen fuel cells with a 320kWh battery pack and offer a payload capacity of 65,000 pounds. That number demonstrates just how much bigger long-haul trucks need to be versus short-haul trucks—Daimler announced a new all-electric short haul truck last week, but its payload capacity will be about 7,000 pounds.
At the moment, Nikola Motor Company’s primary competitor would be Cummins, the diesel truck engine maker that announced an all-electric powertrain capable of hauling 22 tons, or about 44,000 pounds, on a 140kWh battery pack for 100 miles. Cummins said the power train could be paired with an on-board diesel generator to triple the car’s range.
Although battery-only trucks have a much shorter range than hydrogen-electric vehicles, both new technologies are hampered by a similar problem, that is, where to refuel/recharge. Back in December, Nikola Motor Company added that it would build 364 hydrogen fueling stations throughout North America starting in 2018.
The dual-motor design and the fuel cell system in the Nikola One and Two will also be developed with Bosch’s help, with a view to maximizing the truck’s range. The truck’s controls and software will also be a product of the Nikola/Bosch partnership. Bosch is well familiar with vehicle software, too—notoriously it helped develop the software that Volkswagen diesel vehicles ran to cheat federal emissions tests.
But with fuel cell vehicles, the only emission is water, so it strains the imagination to think of a way to repeat such a stunt. At the moment, prices aren’t available for the Nikola One or Two, but the company says the trucks will reflect “a competitive total cost of ownership” compared to traditional powertrains.