Nikola Motor Looking to Rival Tesla With Electric Semi-Trucks

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【Summary】The battery-powered semi will make its debut at Nikola World in Scottsdale, Arizona in April.

Original Vineeth Joel Patel    Mar 25, 2019 7:00 AM PT
Nikola Motor Looking to Rival Tesla With Electric Semi-Trucks

With electric vehicles gaining in popularity globally, the next obvious step is to start electrifying larger vehicles. While Tesla has certainly made headlines for its upcoming electric semi-truck, it's not the only automaker to have an eye on electrified powertrains to haul large cargo. Nikola Motor, which was a pioneer for hydrogen-powered semis, has once again altered its course to include electric trucks. 

Nikola Introducing Electric Semi-Truck

Nikola Motor Company took to Twitter to announce that Nikola Two and Nikola Tre in both "Hydrogen and BEV" forms would be introduced at Nikola World. The "Tre" is the latest semi-truck from the brand, and is predominantly aimed at consumers in Europe, but the option would find its way to the U.S. in roughly 2022. 

As the company outlined in its Twitter post, the electric Two and Tre would be available in 500 kWh and 750 kWh options. There's even a 1,000 kWh option for both trucks. While it's hard to say what kind of range those massive battery packs would bring, New Atlas claims the 1,000 kWh pack would be good for roughly 400 miles on a single charge. Wonder how many battery cells it takes to create a 1,000 kWh pack? The outlet reckons it's about 69,000. 

Readers up to date with Nikola will notice that the company's One semi-truck is not mentioned as being one of the options to get an electric powertrain. And there's a simply reason for that. That model will specifically be a hydrogen only affair and be all about long-distance trips (traveling up to 1,200 miles). Being limited to just 400 miles isn't exactly ideal for semi-truck drivers, which is where the One sets itself apart from the newer semis. 

How the Electric Semis Will Fit Into the Picture

All-electric variants of the semi-trucks are being marketed as better options for shorter hauls, including those involving "inner cities and non weight sensitive applications." Long refueling times could see consumers naturally gravitate toward either a hydrogen model or an electric variant. While the hydrogen semi can be refueled in as little as 15 minutes, we imagine juicing up a 1,000 kWh battery pack would take a lot longer. 

Another downside to the electric powertrains will be weight, which might explain why Nikola expects truckers would want to avoid weigh stations. The company claims that going with batteries will see weight increase by 5,000 pounds over a hydrogen model. 

While there are obvious drawbacks to going down the battery-powered path, Nikola is really looking to make the internal combustion engine obsolete. "Fuel Cell can't be beat long haul and BEV is good option for short haul," tweeted Nikola. "World needs both. ICE is enemy, not hydrogen or BEV." 

Tesla and Nikola aren't the only companies that are working on electric semi-trucks. Daimler announced plans to but a fully electric semi into production by 2021 last June. Daimler's electric semis are expected to have a range of 250 miles. 

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