Nikola previews $80K NZT off-road EV speedster with 590 horsepower

Nikola Motor is accepting zero-dollar reservations on the NZT, a high-performance, all-electric off-highway vehicle (OHV). Pricing for the NZT starts at $80,000 with the first deliveries expected in 2021.

If the $80,000 price tag seems high, consider these numbers: 590 horsepower, 775 foot-pounds of torque, zero-to-60 miles per hour in 4 seconds, and up to 150 miles of driving range per charge with the NZT’s standard 125 kWh Lithium-ion battery pack.

The NZT’s price, 5,250-pound curb weight, and acceleration figures line up roughly with the Tesla Model X, although the Tesla SUV has about twice the NZT’s range. However, you wouldn’t want to drive your Tesla X in the places the NZT can go nor would you want to drive or ride in the NZT on regular paved roads for any distance, even if it were legal.

The NZT has 12 inches of ground clearance. Four 35-inch Kevlar-reinforced tires and Fox 3.0 internal bypass shocks with 18 inches travel are standard. The Fox shocks have dual-speed compression, seven compression stages, and four rebound stages plus bottom-out control. Notice they don’t specify bottom-out prevention, because even a little experience driving in the desert at speed will convince you that unless you’re in a Jedi landspeeder-style hover vehicle, you will bottom out.

The NZT’s on-demand four-wheel-drive system uses a separate 400-volt AC motor at each wheel. Because the electric motors are IP68-rated, you can drive the NZT with the motors submerged in up to one meter of water for 30 minutes, so fording shallow streams isn’t a problem.

You can fully recharge the NZT’s battery pack in two hours connected to a Fast DC Charger or 15 hours with a standard 240-volt to J1772 charger.

The NZT is all about fast off-road performance, although the interior is more car-like than any Polaris or CanAm four-passenger side-by-side UV. Inside the cabin, you’ll find a portrait-oriented 13-inch infotainment display and a 7-inch instrument cluster display. Both screens are IP68-rated, so getting them wet won’t cause problems. The system includes a Rockford Fosgate sound system and front and rear cameras.

Driving assist aids include power steering and ABS brakes. A full hardtop enclosure is standard equipment, as are power windows and climate control.

If it seems odd that a company known for its alternate energy long-haul trucks is also working on an off-road recreation vehicle, note that Nikola originally announced both vehicles the same week. Nikola made headlines in 2016 when it announced the Nikola One, an electric-powered long-haul truck. In 2018 Anheuser-Busch announced an order for 800 Nikola One hydrogen fuel-cell trucks after the vehicle company switched to hydrogen fuel-cell power for the freighter.

During the same week in May 2016 when Nikola revealed plans for the Nikola One, it also announced the Nikola Zero, a four-passenger open-top off-road performance machine for trail and desert riding. The NZT is the Nikola Zero after three more years of development. Other publications note that NZT means “Net Zero Toll” because of the OHV’s zero-emissions, but the original name was simply Nikola Zero.

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