Nikola Motor showcases autonomous hydrogen-powered lorry for European market
Low-emission truck manufacturer, and ongoing rival to Tesla, Nikola Motor Company has unveiled a new autonomous, hydrogen-powered lorry that is set to roll out across Europe by 2023.
Nikola Motor Company’s new vehicle will come with a range of up to 1,200km and could go into production across US and European markets between 2022 or 2023.
While no pricing information has been revealed, the manufacturer is planning to deploy more than 700 refuelling stations for the vehicles across the US and Canada, as well as an undisclosed number in Europe to cope with demand by 2030.
“This truck is a real stunner and long overdue for Europe,” Nikola Motor Company’s chief executive Trevor Milton said. “It will be the first European zero-emission commercial truck to be delivered with redundant braking, redundant steering, redundant 800Vdc batteries and a redundant 120 kW hydrogen fuel cell, all necessary for true level 5 autonomy. Expect our production to begin around the same time as our US version in 2022-2023.”
The HGV is the company’s third to date, with the previous version of the lorry proving popular in the US. Anheuser-Busch InBev (AB InBev) has ordered 800 zero-emission, hydrogen-electric semi-trucks from Nikola Motors, for example, which can travel between 500-1,200 miles on one 20-minute charge.
However, the UK has some infrastructure work to complete before these vehicles will become attractive to businesses. Earlier this year, the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) called on the government to "step up" its support for the use of hydrogen to decarbonise the energy system across power, heat and transport.
The report cited concerns over the long-term use of lithium-ion batteries, which are the preferred choice for electric vehicles (EVs) and urged ministers to look to ways that hydrogen could perform a multitude of roles across the transport and energy spectrum.
At a commercial level, Shell Beaconsfield on the M40 will be the first UK site to bring hydrogen under the same canopy as petrol and diesel. The opening follows the launch of the first fully branded and public hydrogen UK refuelling site at Shell Cobham in February 2017. It forms part of Shell’s ambition to support a shift to low-carbon transport, which has seen the launch of rapid electric vehicle (EV) charging systems at its UK petrol stations.
It is expected that the Nikola vehicle will compete for a market share with Tesla’s all-electric semi-truck, which will benefit from a 2019 production date. Tesla’s truck has already gained orders from Wal-Mart and J.B Hunt and analysts have suggested that a 10% share of the market could be worth $2.5bn in annual revenue for Tesla.
Tesla’s semi-truck offers a range of 500 miles at maximum weight at highway speeds. This is in comparison to diesel trucks which can travel up to 1,000 miles on a single tank. It can drive for another 400 miles with just a 30-minute charge from a “megacharger”, according to the company.
However, there are some still some legal issues to iron out between the two firms. Nikola Motors has filed a $2bn patent infringement lawsuit against Tesla, accusing the latter of violating patents for the design of its Nikola One fuel cell hybrid semi-truck. Recent reports suggest that this lawsuit may be facing a few “roadblocks”.