One of the automotive industry’s real game changers is emerging in the USA. This is the home of Nikola Motor Company, which has good opportunities to fundamentally change the world’s transport systems.
Nikola Motor Company’s CEO and founder, Trevor Milton, describes his mission as follows: “Everything kind of starts when you are young and you have a lot of paths that you can take. And this was my path: I want to transform how trucking works, everything about it. From the ground up.”
The company started up in 2014 with plans for an electrified truck running on batteries, but then decided to think a step further. Within a short time, Nikola has become established as a new-thinking innovator with very ambitious plans. In conjunction with the presentation of Nikola One in December 2016, Trevor Milton described this journey:
“America was built on the back of diesel, as it was more efficient and stronger than the alternatives at the time. And now we face the same problem. How do we build something that is stronger, more efficient and cleaner? That’s our obligation, it’s our future. How do we take the past, and improve on it?”
The only emission is steam
The answer lies in fuel cell technology. Nikola One and Nikola Two are electrified trucks that will run on fuel cells, and are refilled with hydrogen from which the only emission is steam.
In November 2017, Nikola Motor Company announced that it had chosen PowerCell as its primary supplier of fuel cell stacks.
Together with Bosch, PowerCell will develop a system based on PowerCell S3, to generate up to 100 kW per stack. Thanks to the product’s scalability, the system’s total output can be adapted to the power level required for the trucks. “Our background makes us a good match for Nikola,” says Johan Beyer, Business Manager with responsibility for the automotive segment at PowerCell.
“Since we have our roots in the automotive industry, we know what is required of fuel cell stacks.” PowerCell S3 features industry leading power density, which makes it compact and easy to adapt and install in vehicles. The stack is also based on standard components, making it suitable for mass production.
In early December 2017, PowerCell announced that the company had received the first test order from Nikola Motor Company. Marketing of Nikola Two emphasises that the truck is stronger, more efficient and cleaner than other alternatives: it is refilled more quickly, can cover twice the distance, and accelerates twice as fast as comparable diesel trucks.
Nikola Two is a class-8 electric semi-truck which will run on hydrogen. The truck reaches over 1,000 HP, and has a torque of 2,700 Nm, which is almost twice as much as some of today’s semitrailers – and always with zero emissions. Production will start up in 2021.