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The Nikola One hydrogen-electric freight truck. Nikola Motors

Nikola Motors Introduces Hydrogen-Electric Semi Truck

Dec 04, 2016

On Thursday in Salt Lake City, the Nikola Motor Company unveiled the Nikola One, the world’s first hydrogen fuel-cell electric freight truck. The full-scale, zero-emission semi will offer a range between 800 and 1200 miles, and produce 1,000 horsepower, about twice that of an average diesel truck. The company also claims it will operate at half the cost of a comparable diesel truck.

The truck will also feature regenerative braking, weight about 2,000 pounds less than a diesel truck, and have 2,000 foot pounds of torque, allowing it to accelerate with a full load much faster than a diesel truck.

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The company will begin delivering vehicles in 2020, partnering with Fitzgerald to build the first 5,000. It will start work on its own production facility next year, and says that after that it will be able to build 50,000 trucks a year.

Hydrogen fuel cells are a zero-emission technology, but the fueling infrastructure is extremely rare in the United States. Nikola says it will solve that problem through vertical integration, producing and distributing its own hydrogen. The company will deploy 364 hydrogen stations across the U.S. and Canada, which CEO and founder Trevor Milton told Cnet will be completed within ten years. That's one of several ways the company is shadowing Elon Musk's Tesla Motors, right up to its name—also taken from 19th century innovator Nikola Tesla.

Nikola Motor Company only revealed itself in May, but according to Milton has been working in stealth mode for years as it perfected its product. The Nikola One showcased last week was, according to reporters on-site, fully functional.

For more on electric vehicles, watch our video.

Nikola says it has more than 7,000 reservations for trucks, valued at $2.3 billion—though those are refundable $1,500 reservations. And while Milton doesn’t have much of a profile, he was previously part of dHybrid Systems, which worked on compressed natural gas fuel systems for heavy trucks. dHybrid was acquired by Worthington in 2014.

In addition to the Nikola One, Nikola Motors is also promising to produce the smaller Nikola Two short-haul semi, and the Nikola Zero electric off-road vehicle.

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