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Nikola Motor Co Unveils its ‘Badger' Hydrogen-Electric Fuel Cell Pickup With Up to 600 Miles of Range

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【Summary】Nikola Motor Company unveiled today its electric and fuel cell pickup truck named the the Badger. It’s not just another fully-electric truck, it’s the world’s first pickup truck that combines a hydrogen fuel cell stack with battery-power.

Eric Walz    Feb 11, 2020 7:00 AM PT
Nikola Motor Co Unveils its ‘Badger' Hydrogen-Electric Fuel Cell Pickup With Up to 600 Miles of Range

Following Tesla's lead, new electric vehicle startups continue to challenge Detroit automakers. New EV startups are building new and innovative battery-powered vehicles, as they look to gain a foothold building electric vehicles in the most popular vehicle category in the U.S.— pickups and SUVs. The latest electric vehicle comes from Nikola Motors.

Nikola revealed on Monday its electric or fuel cell pickup truck named the Badger. It's not just another fully-electric truck, rather it's the world's first truck with a hydrogen fuel cell option or battery-power. And it looks cool too.

What's unique about the Badger is that it can operate on a combination of fuel cell and electrical power, or battery only at any given time using advanced software for the blending of batteries and fuel-cell for power. The Badger will also be one of the most powerful trucks ever built. 

Nikola says that using hydrogen fuel cell power has advantages over using just battery-power alone. The Badger uses the same type of electric motors as a typical EV, but eliminates many of the issues of battery electric vehicles, including long charging times, limited range, added weight from the extra battery packs and operating efficiently in extremely cold environments.

The initial specs revealed by Nikola for the fully-electric version are quite impressive, easily beating internal combustion engine powered trucks in horsepower, torque and towing capacity and utility. Power comes from a 160 kWh lithium-ion battery and a 120 kW fuel cell.

The Badger can go from 0-60 mph in 2.9 seconds, with peak horsepower of 906 and peak torque of up to 980 ft lbs. Continuous horsepower is rated at 455. Range is up to 600 miles with a bigger battery upgrade, or around 300 miles from the Badger's fully-electric or fuel cell powertrain. The electric truck also has a towing capacity of up to 8,000 lbs. ‘

The Badger comes with four wheel drive and each wheel is powered by its own electric motor using an electronic torque vectoring setup.

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The Nikola Badger

It's obvious that Nikola designed the Badger to appeal to pickup truck owners, with aggressive styling combined with some serious off road capability. Both versions of the Badger are poised to compete with gas-powered trucks such as the Ford F-150, Chevy Silverado, Dodge Ram, Jeep Gladiator and Wrangler.

Nikola Motor CEO Trevor Milton tweeted on Monday that the Badger "is designed to take down the Ford Raptor", which is Ford's high-performance,off-road version of the F-150. By all appearances, its might.

The Badger will be outfitted with a 15-kilowatt power outlet for tools, lights and compressors, which is enough power to assist a construction site for approximately 12 hours without a generator, Nikola claims.

The electric pickup is designed to handle what a construction company could throw at it and is engineered to outperform all electric pickup trucks on the market in both continuous towing, HP and range, Nikola said. 

The Badger will be manufactured in an OEM partnership, meaning that Nikola might be getting some help from an established automaker to build it. No word on that yet.

Up until recently Phoenix-based Nikola was busy developing a line of Class-8, hydrogen-powered electric semi trucks for the trucking industry. 

Nikola's hydrogen powered semi trucks the Nikola One and Nikola Two offer shipping companies a zero-emissions alternative to diesel powered trucks and major carriers are lining up to place their orders. 

Nikola told Forbes last year that it secured $14 billion in commercial truck leases from Anheuser Busch and U.S. Express, each of which is a seven-year lease is worth about $1 million. The volume of orders Nikola received for the Nikola One and Two were so high that Nikola said it had to stop taking orders. "We're sold out for eight years of production," Milton told Forbes.

Nikola is also building out a network of hydrogen filling stations across the U.S., so its customers can always find a place to fill up. Nikola plans to build around 700 hydrogen filling stations across the U.S.

"Nikola has billions worth of technology in our semi-truck program, so why not build it into a pickup truck?" said Trevor Milton, CEO, Nikola Corporation. "I have been working on this pickup program for years and believe the market is now ready for something that can handle a full day's worth of work without running out of energy.  This electric truck can be used for work, weekend getaways, towing, off-roading or to hit the ski slopes without performance loss. No other electric pickup can operate in these temperatures and conditions."

The Badger can operate with no loss of performance in temperatures as low as minus 20 fahrenheit.

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Nikola is also targeting the outdoor recreation market with its Powersports division, offering a lineup of rugged, zero-emissions fully-electric all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) and a personal watercraft that are all more environmentally friendly. 

In November, Nikola announced it developed a new "game changing" battery technology that has record energy density. The company will reveal more details at Nikola World 2020, the company's upcoming technology summit in Phoenix this fall.

Milton said at this year's CES in early January that his company is working with Bosch to develop powertrain components.

The Badger will be available as a demo in September 2020. Deliveries are targeted for the end of 2021. Nikola CEO Milton said the Badger will cost between $60k-90k, depending on the drivetrain. Pricing is expected to be competitive in order to lure customers away from gas powered models like the popular Ford F-150 pickup.  

However, Ford is not resting on its laurels, the automaker is developing a battery powered version of the F-150, which has been the best-selling pickup in the U.S. for over 40 consecutive years. Whether the electric F-150 will be as innovative as the Badger is still unclear. 

Ford's main rival GM is also coming out with an electric pickup under the resurrected Hummer badge. The new Hummer pickup was officially teased in a Super Bowl commercial last week.

Electric truck startup Rivian is also coming out with its fully-electric R1T pickup, with production expected to start later this year. Amazon and Ford together invested $1 billion in Rivian. Amazon ordered 100,000 electric delivery vans from Rivian and Ford are co-developing an electric vehicle architecture that will underpin the first electric SUV from its luxury division Lincoln.

Electric automaker Tesla is also entering the truck segment with its futuristic looking Cybertruck.

The only obstacle now for Nikola is luring fiercely loyal truck owners away from internal combustion engine models, which seems doable given the Badger's good looks, impressive specs and utility. To help market the truck, Nikola is turning to television.

Heavy D, a reality TV star from the popular show "Diesel Brothers," has partnered with Nikola to design, build and test the Badger in real world environments, which is anticipated to attract millions of viewers throughout the process.

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