Plans for Nikola refuse vehicle head to trash bin

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PHOENIX, Ariz. – Nikola Corporation’s goal of producing zero-emission vehicles has been dealt another setback, as it ends a collaboration with Republic Services to develop refuse trucks.

The companies were looking to develop a fully integrated refuse truck with a battery-electric drive and body, while also integrating new systems.

The refuse vehicle was to be based on a Nikola Tre platform. (Photo: Nikola Corp.)

Nikola announced this morning that both companies determined that the new technologies and design concepts would take longer to develop than expected and result in “unexpected costs”.

A previously announced vehicle order for 2,500 units has been canceled.

“This was the right decision for both companies given the resources and investments required,” said Nikola CEO Mark Russell. “We support and respect Republic Services’ commitment to achieving environmentally responsible, sustainable solutions for their customers. Nikola remains laser-focused on delivering on our battery-electric and fuel-cell electric commercial truck programs, and the energy infrastructure to support them.” 

The plans had been to develop a vehicle that would run up to 240 km or 1,200 collections on a single charge. In a tweet to announce that deal, former CEO Trevor Milton tweeted that the order was guaranteed, with the option of 5,000 trucks.

Just last month, General Motors abandoned plans to take an 11% stake in Nikola, and instead introduecd a non-binding Memorandum of Understanding to integrate GM Hydrotec fuel cell systems into Nikola Class 7 and 8 vehicles. Initial prototypes of that equipment are scheduled for next year, with the beta prototypes to follow in the first half of 2022.

In the process, Nikola announced that it was returning all deposits on its promised Badger pickup truck.

The company says it plans to begin delivering battery-electric Nikola Tre tractors next year, and also break ground on its first commercial hydrogen station. Fuel-cell-electric trucks are to be produced in Arizona beginning in 2023.

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John G. Smith is Newcom Media's vice-president - editorial, and the editorial director of its trucking publications -- including Today's Trucking,, and Transport Routier. The award-winning journalist has covered the trucking industry since 1995.

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  • I’m surprised that an electric truck would have enough power to sustain movement while compacting trash at residential properties.