A Utah-based startup named Nikola Motor Company has announced plans to build an all-electric utility task vehicle (UTV) called simply Zero. If the name sounds familiar, it’s likely because the firm also believes it can revolutionize the trucking industry with a hybrid big rig.
The Zero is an open-top four-seater designed to go off the beaten path. It’s similar in concept to the Polaris RZR 1000 Turbo and the Arctic Cat Wildcat, but it stands out because it’s entirely electric. Its drivetrain consists of a 50kWh lithium-ion battery pack mounted under the passenger compartment that zaps four in-wheel electric motors, though two of them can be shut down when the extra traction they bring isn’t needed.
The setup is good for 520 horsepower and 476 pound-feet of instant torque, outputs that make the Zero considerably more powerful than its main competitors — at least on paper. It’s allegedly capable of hitting 60 mph from a stop in three seconds flat — faster than a BMW M3 — and its battery pack holds enough juice for up to 150 miles of driving. A solar panel mounted on the roof helps keep the pack topped-up on the go.
With over 14 inches of ground clearance and Fox shocks that deliver 20 inches of travel, the Zero’s off-road chops are equally impressive. The drivetrain is entirely waterproof, though Nikola warns against driving its UTV through water for safety reasons.
For a UTV, the Zero packs a surprising amount of tech. The traditional analog instrument cluster has been tossed out and replaced by three massive color screens that provide vital information about the off-roader and its surroundings. A rearview camera is optional, and owners can create different password-protected profiles online to control how fast their kids can drive, and how far they can go.
Like the One, Nikola’s hybrid semi, the Zero is merely a concept illustrated by a set of computer-generated images, and a running and driving prototype hasn’t been revealed yet. The company is nonetheless accepting refundable $750 deposits from interested buyers. The finished product is expected to carry a base price of $42,000, a stupefying figure considering its main competitors all start in the vicinity of $20,000, and a BMW 3 Series costs $33,150. To sweeten the deal, the first 5,000 customers will receive a $5,000 discount.
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