You probably know about Tesla Motors electric cars and crossovers. How about electric semi trucks for the commercial market? Peculiarly named Nikola Motor Company has a proposition for you. It is the Nikola One. An electric 6×6 semi truck with a combined power output of 2,000 horsepower and 3,700 lb-ft of torque that is capable of traveling up to 1,200 miles before it’s natural gas-powered turbine generator needs to be refueled. It also can accelerate twice as fast as a traditional diesel-powered semi, stop in half the distance, and ascend a 6% grade at 65 mph when fully loaded.
The interior is more roomy and has a design with better forward visibility because there is no giant turbo-diesel engine in the front of the truck.
Does it sound too good to be true? Well, the Nikola One is still in a concept phase. Nikola will be happy to take your $1,500 reservation for one of these. The reservation is fully refundable, but if you are patient – the company anticipates that first deliveries of the truck will begin in 3-4 years from now.
So how will this big rig work? Each one of the six wheels are powered by electric motors. The system offers independent control of power delivery or regenerative braking and each wheel. This means that it can offer torque vectoring for precise cornering, accelerating, and braking. The truck can carry a lithium-ion battery pack with a capacity of 320 kWh. By comparison, the largest capacity battery that is currently available in the Tesla Model X is 90 kWh. So, this semi is carrying a battery pack that is about 3.5 times larger than in the Tesla. The difference is, you need to plug-in and charge the Model X after approximately 257 miles. The Nikola One is carrying a natural gas-powered turbine generator that is basically a “range extender”. It automatically keeps the batteries charged up for a maximum range of 1,200 miles. When you need to refill, Nikola has a network of natural gas filling stations across the country to help with fill-ups.
Nikola makes another promise. If you order one of the first 5,000 units, then your natural gas costs will be covered by the company for up to 1,000,000 miles. There is a fixed-cost monthly lease proposal. For $5,000 per month, unlimited miles, unlimited fuel, warranty, and maintenance are all included. There is an offer to to trade-in for a new Nikola One every 72 months or 1,000,000 miles. Being able to lock-in fuel and maintenance costs for up to 72 months is very attractive offer for any transportation business operator.
It’s exciting to see a company thinking outside the box for a fresh powertrain solution to the semi truck, one of the main workhorses of the global economy. Will it come to fruition? You can help shape the future with a reservation, but only time will tell how successful this solution will be in the real world.
Speaking of semis, here is one that is used as a car transport.