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Nikola Motor gets $2.3B worth of preorders for electric semi-trailer truck

Lucas Mearian | June 27, 2016
The truck will be unveiled on Dec. 2

After announcing last month it is building a 2,000 horsepower, hybrid semitrailer, the Nikola Motor Co. revealed this week it has more than 7,000 paid reservations that would translate into $2.3 billion in truck sales when it ships.

Nikola Motor founder and CEO Trevor Milton also announced that the electric class 8 semi-truck, dubbed "Nikola One" will be unveiled Dec. 2 in Salt Lake City. The truck will retail for $375,000, which is nearly double the price for a standard diesel semi-trailer. The company said it will offer a leasing plan that will run from $4,000 to $5,000 per month, depending on the configuration and options a customer chooses.

nikola one

The Nikola Motor Co. is offering the first 5,000 reservations for the Nikola One 100,000 gallons of free natural gas, which the company said is enough for 1 million miles worth of travel.

The Nikola One semi-trailer will be capable of pulling a gross weight of 80,000 pounds and will have more than a 1,200-mile range between stops, the company said.

"The reason for the horsepower increase is that with electric motors you only use what you need unlike a diesel engine, so most of the time, you will only need 400 to 500 horsepower out of the 2,000 HP," a spokesperson for Nikola Motor Co. said in an email reply to Computerworld. "You don't waste any energy that you don't use with electric motors. But when going up a hill, a diesel is not safe operating at 35 mph or less, so with the extra horsepower, the electric allows you to climb to full speed limit."

The semi-trailer will sport a 320 kilowatt hour (kWh) lithium-ion battery pack, along with a 150-gallon fuel-agnostic turbine, which can be configured to run on various kinds of fuel, including diesel or petroleum. The standard model will have a natural gas tank.

Nikola claims the semi-trailer will cost half as much to operate as traditional diesel trucks. The company also said the truck's lithium-ion battery will never require recharging because the turbine will charge it as the vehicle drives, just like other consumer hybrid vehicles.

Nikoli One semi interior

The interior of the Nikola One semi-trailer.

The Nikola One will also sport regenerative braking technology, an energy recovery mechanism that will slow the vehicle by converting kinetic energy into a form that can be stored until needed. Regenerative braking is more efficient than traditional braking, which uses friction to slow a vehicle and wears braking systems faster.

Nikola began taking $1,500 refundable reservations for the truck a month ago, offering 100,000 gallons of free natural gas to the first 5,000 trucks reserved. The natural gas can be retrieved through a network of compressed natural gas (CNG) stations throughout the U.S.


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