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Nikola seems to be putting its money where its mouth is


It certainly looks futuristic, so will Nikola Motor Company’s hydrogen-powered, zero-emissions, electric drive truck live up the early hype it has been receiving and reinvent the wheel when it comes to transport truck hauling?

Offering all maintenance and service, including things like tires and wiper blades, and no cost for fuel – that’s right, no cost to fill the truck with hydrogen – is quite the deal.

Imagine if you bought a car and didn’t have to worry about fuel, oil changes, tires, maintenance, or even wiper blades for one million miles. I think most people would jump at that chance, assuming it was offered at an affordable price.

It’s not very often consumers can purchase a product and be guaranteed it will work, and if it doesn’t, not have to worry about the cost of fixing it.

But what about performance? Well, according to Nikola, their hydrogen model offers 2,000 lbs./ft. of torque, 1,000 horsepower and a range of 800-1,200 miles per tank. The company even says the Nikola One has a top speed of 65 mph up a 6% grade and can go from zero to 60 mph under load in 30 seconds – pretty impressive.

But what about infrastructure, like fueling stations? A hydrogen-powered vehicle would be kind of useless if there were no places to fill it up. Well, Nikola says they have that covered as well with the construction of 364 fuel stations/truck stops across the US and Canada. OK, so there won’t be as many hydrogen locations as there are gasoline and diesel stations – estimated to be approximately 114,500 in the US and 12,700 in Canada – but with a transport truck getting 800-1,200 miles on one tank, you wouldn’t need to stop and fill up very often anyway, so as long as they are properly located across the US and Canada, there shouldn’t be any issue.

The Nikola One also weighs less than an average truck, coming in at around 2,000 lbs. lighter than a diesel truck, which the company says equals more freight being transported.

So, other than the fact that it ‘looks funny’, assuming this thing works the way Nikola Motor says it works, it’s hard to point your finger at anything negative.

I guess from an environmental standpoint, though it is advertised as being zero emissions, which sounds wonderful, the amount of energy currently required to produce hydrogen is much higher than other fuels, so you’re losing some of that environmental advantage before you even put any fuel in the Nikola One, or any other hydrogen vehicle for that matter, such as the Toyota Mirai and Honda Clarity.

But in today’s world, and the transportation needs it demands, there is always going to some kind of environmental impact regardless of what you do. People and goods need to be moved…by road, air, sea or rail.

What Nikola has done is really open the eyes of the public, much like Tesla did with its electric passenger car. It’s amazing what can be done when a person, or a group of motivated people, put their minds to it.

Would you drive the Nikola One? I’d love to know what your thoughts are on this innovative new truck, and why you feel the way you do about it.

Please, write me a letter…your opinions matter and I want those opinions to be read in Truck West.

Let’s make 2017 ‘the year of the letter to the editor.’


Derek Clouthier

Derek Clouthier

A university graduate with a degree in English, I have worked in the media industry as an editor, reporter and now as editor of Truck West. I have several years of management experience in journalism, as well as hospitality, but am first and foremost a writer, both professionally and in my personal life, having completed two fiction novels. derek@newcom.ca @DerekClouthier
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2 Comments » for Nikola seems to be putting its money where its mouth is
  1. h2fan says:

    The energy efficiency isn’t important (or isn’t as important) because they are going to source the hydrogen from renewable solar electricity. If this solar electricity costs $.02/kWh a kilogram of hydrogen would cost $1.00 (50 kWh/Kg). Once the solar panels and electrolyzer have paid for themselves the hydrogen is free. And by the way, one can drive throughout Denmark on hydrogen made from renewable energy RIGHT NOW – there’s a reason that more people don’t know about this. Youtube has a great video of a wind powered hydrogen station in the UK. “Solar Hydrogen is the fuel of the future” – is a book chock full of technical details- search the title and you’ll find it. Highly recommend.

  2. Harry Rudolfs says:

    Not sure there is anything here to rave about. For one thing northern climates are not friendly to hydrogen systems unless you want your exhaust shitting ice cubes, since the exhaust is H2O (might work in California, though), ask Percolator how they made out with tier hydrogen-celled vehicle. I watched the cool, hipster guy’s presentation with glassy eyes. Still not sure they have a product here. Diesel trucks cheaper, bug free, yes big electric engine big promises, but besides the glowing words I’ve read in TN and TT, perhaps a little skepticism would be appropriate here.

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