Big switch: Nikola One all-electric truck will now be charged by hydrogen fuel cell

2019 nikola one news specs performance hydrogen fuel cell truck
Nikola Motor Company just changed lanes. In May, when Nikola first announced itself and its plans for a zero-emissions long-haul truck, the truck was going to run on battery power backed up by a natural gas turbine. Scratch that. Today Nikola announced the Nikola One Class 8 truck will actually be powered by a hydrogen fuel cell, as reported by Electrek.

In June Nikola announced it had collected $2.3 billion worth of pre-orders (a total of over 7,000 pre-orders, some possibly multiple) on the big truck. At that time the Nikola One truck’s power was stated to come via a 320kWh lithium battery pack with a 150-gallon natural gas tank to fuel the turbine that would recharge the battery pack. The turbine set up was called a “range-extender.”

Now, according to the press release, Nikola says the actual technology details were “kept confidential pending finalization of key supplier agreements.”

Here’s the new power train, from the release: “a custom-built hydrogen-electric 800V fuel cell. Nikola’s hydrogen class 8 trucks will be more powerful than any other production diesel truck on the road and have a range of over 1,200 miles between fill-ups. It will achieve nearly 20 mpg with zero emissions under full load …”

The company claims the vehicle will have half the operating cost of diesel powered trucks. The powertrain is rated at 1,000 horsepower and 2,000-foot pounds of torque. Nikola says the truck can accelerate from zero to 60 acceleration under a full load in 30 seconds and stop with a full load in 150 feet. According to both figures cited by Nikola its truck will get up to speed in half the time and brake in half the distance of diesel trucks.

Nikola now also offers a leasing program with the rate set at $5,000 to $7,000 a month depending on options and trim. The monthly fee covers the lease payment, unlimited miles, unlimited fuel, scheduled maintenance, and a full warranty. After 72 months or 1,000,000 miles owners can trade their Nikola One in for another one at no additional cost.

In a message to people who already put down a deposit based on the previous powertrain specifications, Nikola said they’ll have their choice of buying or leasing “when we finalize the design and order with you.” All deposits are refundable, so anyone who wants to walk is able to do so at any time. The original technology depended upon access to a network of natural gas refilling stations, for which Nikola had not previously arranged.

The source for all the hydrogen? Nikola say the company is “in the process of developing multiple 100-megawatt solar farms to create hydrogren from electrolysis. Nikola will convert solar energy to hydrogen on-site using only energy and water, making it the only fuel that is zero emission from production to consumption.”

The company also announced 56 hydrogen filling stations (at first, with more to come) strategically located across the U.S. and Canada. A map of the planned stations is on the company website. The company promises the hydrogren stations will be serviced by a fleet of Nikola One trucks. The trucks will transport liquid hydrogen from the solar farms to the hydrogen stations. Like the Nikola One trucks, the solar farms and hydrogen filling stations are scheduled to be ready by 2020.

On December 1, 2016 the Nikola One will be unveiled at the company’s Salt Lake City headquarters. It will be an invite-only event, but will also be streamed online on the Nikola website.  The company also stated it now has more than $3 billion pre-orders.

It remains to be seen if people who thought they were signing on for eventual delivery of trucks powered by battery backed up by natural gas, outlets for which are relatively common, will stay onboard with technology requiring solar farms and a national network of hydrogen filling stations.

While $3 billion is a lot of money, it certainly sounds like the investment necessary to build all the solar farms and hydrogen stations as well as set up a factory and production process to create the trucks in the numbers the company is speaking about will require a great deal more in investment. Nikola Motor Company is a privately held firm.

Product Review

Who needs a Range Rover? BMW’s X7 has better tech and just as much luxury

The 2019 BMW X7 is the German automaker’s long-overdue entry into the full-size luxury SUV segment. Packing three rows of seats and plenty of tech, can the new BMW take on Mercedes-Benz and Land Rover?
Mobile

You can now use the innovative Red Hydrogen One on Google Fi

The Red Hydrogen One was first announced in 2017 and has been delayed a few times since then. Now, the Red Hydrogen One is finally available, featuring a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835, 6GB of RAM, and 128GB of storage.
Product Review

Sony's Xperia 10 falls frustratingly short of budget brilliance

Better know for premium products, Sony does also have a budget smartphone range, but can the Sony Xperia 10 compete with great cheap phones from Nokia and Motorola? We put it through its paces to find out how it measures up.
Gaming

These are the must-have games that every Xbox One owner needs

More than four years into its life span, Microsoft's latest console is finally coming into its own. From Cuphead to Halo 5, the best Xbox One games offer something for players of every type.
Cars

Volvo wants to use speed limiters, in-car cameras, and data to reduce crashes

Volvo believes new tech is the best way to improve car safety. The Swedish automaker will let owners set speed limits when loaning out their cars, install cameras to monitor drivers, and use data to design better safety features.
Cars

BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe teased way ahead of its November debut

The BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe is coming to the United States, eventually. The new compact BMW won't be unveiled until the 2019 Los Angeles Auto Show in November. The Gran Coupe will be based on a front-wheel drive platform.
Product Review

The Ferrari Portofino is the super stallion you’ll want to drive every day

With the introduction of the Portofino, Ferrari addresses the California T’s stylistic shortcomings while improving comfort, convenience, and performance. There’s little “entry-level” about this super stallion.
Cars

Tesla lets you skip the dealership, order a car from the comfort of your couch

Tesla has always bypassed traditional dealerships, and it has now adopted an online-only sales model that lets customers configure and order their car without leaving their couch. Here's what you need to know.
Cars

Autonomous shuttle rides coming to New York City via Optimus Ride

Workers at the Brooklyn Navy Yard in NY City will soon be able to make their way around the 300-acre industrial park in Optimus Ride's self-driving shuttles. The tech startup says it's the first trial of its kind in the state.
Cars

Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi group uses Microsoft cloud platform for connected cars

The Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance is launching a new cloud platform for its cars. Based on Microsoft Azure, the Alliance Intelligent Cloud will enable features like connected services and over-the-air updates.
Cars

The 2019 Toyota C-HR gains a popular tech feature as its price comes down

Toyota has updated the C-HR, its entry-level crossover, by adding an entry-level trim level to the lineup. Every model regardless of price also comes standard with an 8.0-inch touchscreen compatible with Apple CarPlay.
Product Review

2019 Volkswagen Jetta offers German refinement and tech at an affordable price

With enough tech to make villains jealous, the Volkswagen Jetta punches above its class as a forward-thinking sedan. Spacious, comfortable, and efficient, the Jetta is a refined offering. German refinement comes with a serious attitude.
Cars

The 2020 Porsche Cayenne Coupe is an exercise in form-over-function design

Porsche expanded its lineup of SUVs with a swoopier evolution of the Cayenne named Cayenne Coupe. Don't let the name fool you: it still has four doors. It stands out with a fastback-like roofline that's lower than the Cayenne's.
Product Review

Chris is the virtual co-pilot phone-obsessives need in their car

Driving while using your phone is dangerous, and often illegal. Meet Chris, the digital assistant for your car that wants to help keep your hands off your phone, and your eyes on the road.