Nikola throws its hat into EV pickup ring
Nikola Corp. has piled onto the electric pickup pile, revealing some details on its entry into the fast-growing segment. Unlike other companies planning on entering the space, its truck can be simultaneously powered by fuel cells and batteries. The five-seat truck measures 5900 mm (232 in) long, 1850 mm (72.8 in) tall, and 2160 mm (85.0 in) wide—with a 1560-mm (61.4 in) bed width.
“Nikola has billions worth of technology in our semi-truck program, so why not build it into a pickup truck?” said Trevor Milton, CEO, Nikola Corp. “I have been working on this pickup program for years and believe the market is now ready for something that can handle a full day’s worth of work without running out of energy.”
For those of you that haven’t been following Nikola, it is building a portfolio of hydrogen fuel cell and battery powered electric semi-trucks. For North America, the Motor Company is developing the Nikola One hydrogen fuel-cell electric sleeper semi-truck and the Nikola Two electric and hydrogen fuel cell electric day cab semi-truck. The Nikola Tre is a fully electric and hydrogen fuel-cell electric cabover semi-truck for Europe, Asia, and Australia. Nikola Energy is supplementing this effort by planning a worldwide hydrogen fueling network. In addition, Nikola Powersports is currently designing electric off-highway vehicles and personal watercrafts for commercial and military markets. With the addition of the pickup, the company is hoping to further accelerate its mission to transform the transportation industry.
“The Nikola Badger is a game changer,” said Mark Russell, President of Nikola. “The program will help drive down the cost of the fuel-cell components on our semi-truck while accelerating the hydrogen station rollout. Giving customers the option to order a fuel-cell or battery electric version will ensure we drive the cost down for everyone across our lineup.”
Although the Badger pickup will be built in conjunction with another OEM (to be announced soon), using its certified parts and manufacturing facilities, Nikola says its truck will be unlike anything on the market. It is designed to target construction-company customers and outperform all electric (and conventional) pickup trucks on the market in both continuous towing, power, and range. Top performance numbers are over 906 hp (675 kW) peak, 455 hp (339 kW) continuous, 980 lb·ft (1330 Nm) torque, and a top range of 600 mi (965 km). Electric acceleration from 0-60 mph (0-97 km/h) is in about 2.9 s.
Advanced software blending, of batteries and 120-kW·h fuel cell enables, selectable by the driver at the touch of a button, enables that 600-mi range. The truck can go up to 300 mi (482 mi) on the 160-kW·h, flooded lithium-ion battery module alone for those that do not have access to hydrogen. However, Nikola is currently planning 700 hydrogen stations to give North America hydrogen coverage, with initial hydrogen station locations to be announced this quarter.
That blending, combined with advanced supercapacitor launch assist, is also said to enable consistent 0-100 mph (160 km/h) launches with minimal loss of performance and operation on grades up to 40%. Other performance targets include a towing capacity of over 8000 lb (3630 kg) and operating targets without motor stalls of up to 50% grade. With a fully loaded trailer and combined vehicle weight of 18,000 lb (8165 kg), the truck will be able to launch from a standstill on a 30% grade without motor stall. The truck will be outfitted with a 15-kW power outlet for tools, lights and compressors, which is enough power to assist a construction site for about 12 h without a generator. The company also promises -20°F (-29°C) operating environments without major performance or state-of-charge losses.
“This electric truck can be used for work, weekend getaways, towing, off-roading, or to hit the ski slopes without performance loss,” added Milton. “No other electric pickup can operate in these temperatures and conditions.”
The pickup will make its first appearance at Nikola World 2020 in Phoenix, expected in September, where prototypes will be available for select customers and media to ride in. A limited number of reservations will be available in 2020, and customers can sign up for updates at www.nikolamotor.com/badger.
One of the most unique aspects of the Badger’s rollout is a marketing relationship with Heavy D, a reality TV star from the Discovery TV networks’ “Diesel Brothers.” He has partnered with Nikola to design, build, and test the pickup in real world environments, hopefully attracting millions of viewers and followers through the process.
“My audience, hard-core truck enthusiasts, has expected me to push the limits of truck power and capabilities since my beginnings,” said Heavy D, also known as Dave Sparks. “Being able to pull back the curtain of a production truck build is a rare opportunity where we can include the everyday truck owner to participate in the final outcome of design, exterior choices and performance specs. I wanted to be part of that story and now I have the opportunity with Nikola.”