With everyone focused on clean-energy semis, the Nikola Semi Truck brings something new to the table. In April 2018, Nikola Motor launched its hydrogen-powered trucks. They also announced plans to build over 700 fueling stations throughout the U.S. and Canada. What’s more, they’ve got a light, spacious, cutting-edge design along with an all-inclusive lease plan and an aggressive production schedule. They’re hoping all of that could shoot the Nikola Semi Truck to the front of the pack.
Zero Emissions, Just H2O
Taking the shipping industry green is the drive behind the race to create low-emissions trucks. The basic idea is to run semis with electricity instead of fossil fuels. Most other companies are focusing on batteries, but hydrogen is the power behind the Nikola Semi Truck.
Nikola trucks are built with tanks and fuel cells for compressed hydrogen gas. The gas flows from the tanks to the cells where it mixes with oxygen. That produces electricity to power the truck. If you’re getting flashbacks to high school science class, you’ll recognize that the process also creates water. Good old H2O is the only thing that will come out of this truck’s tailpipe.
One speedbump in this plan is that hydrogen itself isn’t a naturally-occurring gas. It must be taken from other elements. Additionally, building hydrogen fueling stations is more expensive than building battery-charging stations. However, in the long-term, hydrogen may wind up being the most effective way for fleets to go emissions-free. Plus, the company promises hydrogen for their trucks will be sourced only through renewable means, like wind or solar power.
Ditching the combustion motor from the typical semi design gives Nikola the freedom to place necessary components better. Consequently, they’ve lowered the center of gravity to give drivers more control and make trucks safer to drive. That feature is one many other companies claim makes their electric semis safer, too. Regenerative braking is another common trait. However, Nikola Motor claims that their semi stops faster than other semis on the market. That’s thanks to 6X4 regenerative braking coupled with air disk brakes on every Nikola Semi Truck.
A 360º view is another Nikola Semi Truck safety feature. In addition to numerous high-def cameras, these semis boast sonar, radar, and computerized technology that maximizes visibility. What’s more, the safety features don’t stop there. Nikola Semis use torque vectoring to control every wheel individually. Speed for each wheel adjusts while picking up speed, braking, and during maneuvering. That feature enhances safety for drivers and everyone around them.
Capabilities and Specs
The extensive list of Nikola Semi Truck specs can be viewed on the company site. Some notable ones, however, include:
- 240 kWh to 320 kWh battery capacity generating up to 1,000HP
- 800V AC motors producing up to 2,000 pound-feet of torque
- steel and aluminum frames
- independent front and rear suspension
- 295 75 R22.5 front tires and 445 50 R22.5 rear tires
Plus, the lightweight wheels, composite aluminum cab, and plastic hood and bumper take the lightweighting effect even further, reducing the semi’s weight as low as 18,000 pounds. That means hauling more freight and increasing your bottom line with every load.
Moreover, the Nikola Semi Truck claims to have a range of 500 to 1,200 miles, depending on the model. Loaded to the hilt, it’s supposed to go from zero to 60 mph in 30 seconds and maintain a speed of 65 mph. That’s even up a 6 percent grade.
Nikola Semi Truck Features
Most new semis these days sport a sleek, futuristic look. That’s to increase aerodynamics more than make them look cool, but drivers like both elements. The Nikola Semi Truck’s design is no exception. However, the cab interior is what interests drivers since that’s where they spend most of their time. It sports two seats, a steering wheel, and an ultra-modern dash with a touchscreen and controls angled toward the driver. The touchscreen is essentially Mission Control. It controls and displays pretty much everything about the truck, including vehicle data, range, battery levels, wheel torque, cabin controls, and fleet software.
Nikola Motor plans for two versions of their semi—simply named Nikola One and Nikola Two. Two is a day-cab and One is a sleeper. Both take advantage of the space where an engine normally sits to provide 30 percent more cab room. The sleeper has all the amenities of a luxury camp trailer:
- a full-size bunk bed (yep—two beds!)
- full-size fridge with freezer
- large closet
- computer desk
- tons of storage
- 12 and 110V outlets
- LED TV
- WiFi and Internet
- climate control
Affording a Nikola Semi
You might be wondering how much a decked-out high-performance semi like the Nikola Semi Truck costs. You might wonder for a while. The company hasn’t even released an estimated price tag yet. Nikola Motors also isn’t highlighting cost-per-mile figures like other electric semi companies do. Instead, they are offering a leasing program which, for around $5,000 to $7,000 per month, covers the warranty, hydrogen fuel, and even maintenance.
Nikola Motors says production will begin in 2019 and ramp up to full capacity by 2021. Interestingly, they are not requiring money down with the orders. The unveiling of the Nikola Semi Truck with its alternative power source makes you wonder what the next contender in the race for greener trucks will look like.
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