Nikola Motor Company Switches Gears on 2000 HP Semi

Nikola announces a few big changes that could have major impact on the viability of its fuel cell semi.

(Image courtesy of Nikola.)

(Image courtesy of Nikola.)

Nikola Motor Company has announced that its zero emission semi will be powered by a “custom-built hydrogen-electric 800V fuel cell.” According to the company, the new drivetrain will make its long haul truck more powerful than any class-8 truck on the road with a range of 1,200 miles between fueling stops.

That raises a question: How exactly will Nikola deliver hydrogen fuel to truckers that want to keep their rigs-a-runnin’?

Obviously, Nikola has provided itself with another huge design challenge aside from making a commercially viable fuel-cell powered truck. Or has it?

In the company’s press release, Nikola hardly seemed concerned with such hurdles. The company has stated that by 2020 Nikola will be operating a network of over 50 hydrogen fuels stations across the U.S. and presumably Canada as well.

“The desire to be 100% emission free in the U.S. and Canada is a critical piece of our long-term engineering and environmental efforts, not just in vehicle energy consumption, but also in how energy is produced,” said Trevor Milton, Nikola CEO. “Nikola will produce hydrogen via zero emission solar farms built by Nikola Motor Company. These solar farms will produce over 100 megawatts each and will use electrolysis to create hydrogen from water. Even our manufacturing facilities will be run off of zero emission hydrogen energy.” 

Though Nikola has described a grand vision for bringing a greener commercial transportation solution to market, the amount of work necessary to get the project off the ground seems staggering. To be sure, Nikola’s dream of a hydrogen fuel-cell powered semi isn’t impossible. Take Space-X or Tesla, or even Amazon as your waypoint for fledgling and ambitious ventures. All of those companies have seemingly made good on their lofty promises, or at least they’re well on their way. But the big question for investors and green-niks is this: Can Nikola be another start-up that defies expectations?

For more information, check out our article on Nikola: The Tesla of Semi-Trucks.