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Ars makes every effort to cover its own travel costs. We covered the flight out to Scottsdale, AZ, but Nikola covered one night in a nearby hotel.

  • A new view of the perviously-announced Nikola Two, the company's American heavy-duty truck, which can be made with a fuel cell in its powertrain or a battery pack. Nikola Motor Company
  • An interior view of the Nikola Two. Nikola Motor Company
  • The Nikola Tre will be the company's debut into the European trucking industry. The vehicle will go into production by 2023, Nikola says. Nikola Motor Company
  • The Nikola Water Adventure Vehicle or WAV will also be zero-emissions for exploring sensitive waterways. Nikola Motor Company
  • Nikola also announced the Reckless, a military-grade hydrogen fuel cell UTV. Nikola Motor Company
  • A press photo of the NIkola NZT off-roading. Nikola Motor Company

SCOTTSDALE, ARIZ.—Nikola Motor Company announced a slew of all-electric and hydrogen fuel cell-powered vehicles on a cool Tuesday night in a warehouse surrounded by desert. The company seems to be positioning itself as the "trucker's Tesla," serving up Budweiser (supplied by partner-customer Anheuser-Busch) and country music to the same industry watchers and investors that Tesla usually courts.

Of the five products that Nikola CEO Trevor Martin talked about on Tuesday night, very little came as a true surprise to watchers of the company. There were two trucks: the Nikola Two and the Nikola Tre (for European markets), as well as a Utility Task Vehicle (UTV) for off-roading, a military-grade UTV, and a previously unannounced jet ski.

Trucks

The most important of these debuts were the trucks: Martin admitted later in a private discussion with the press that truck sales would make up the bulk of Nikola's business and revenues. Back in 2016, Nikola announced its Nikola One truck, promising that by 2020 it would have a truck for sale with 1,200 miles of range from a combination battery pack charged by a hydrogen fuel cell.

Now, the Nikola One has been sidelined by the Nikola Two, which appears to be a better fit for actual commercialization: its powertrain can be made with a battery bank for all-electric operation, or it can be made with a hydrogen-powered fuel cell that constantly regenerates a smaller battery.

Although the new commercialization date is 2022, Martin said last night that Nikola is on track to meet that deadline.

Nikola says the fuel-cell version of this truck will have 500 to 750 miles of range, which is on the upper limit of what a person can drive in one stretch anyway. Refueling the hydrogen truck will take just 15 minutes at any of the 700 hydrogen refueling stations that Nikola has promised to build. (We assume the company will have more to say on hydrogen fuel today, when it's scheduled to host a second talk given by its Vice President of Hydrogen Technology Jesse Schneider and Nel Hydrogen, a European supplier of renewable hydrogen manufacturing equipment.)

  • The house was packed last night for the product unveiling. Megan Geuss
  • Anheuser-Busch is a partner with Nikola and has promised to buy 800 trucks, so the Budweiser clydesdales were brought out to rev up the crowd. Megan Geuss
  • CEO Trevor Martin had a very Silicon Valley-style product announcement last night. Megan Geuss
  • Nikola CEO Trevor Martin and Jesse Schneider, the company's VP of Hydrogen Technology. Megan Geuss
  • This Nikola Two drove out onto the stage very slowly. Proof of life. Megan Geuss
  • Rear of the Nikola Tre cab. Megan Geuss
  • The Nikola Tre is a bit smaller, and meant to compete with diesel trucking in Europe. Megan Geuss
  • Nikola CEO Trevor Martin called this "The Stormtrooper" and we can see why. Megan Geuss
  • Finally, Nikola shows off a real Nikola Two. Megan Geuss
  • The Nikola NZT is the company's off-roading vehicle. Megan Geuss
  • Front of the NZT. Megan Geuss
  • The NZT has a slew of premium features, including AC and heating, which normal ATVs don't have. Megan Geuss
  • The Water Adventure Vehicle (WAV) will also be much quieter than a diesel counterpart. Megan Geuss
  • A side view of the military-grade hydrogen fuel cell UTV that Nikola announced last night. Megan Geuss
  • The company said the vehicle was silent, gave off almost no heat, and could be fully submerged in water. Megan Geuss

The all-battery powertrain does not have a specific range yet, but the trucks will likely be sold to freight companies who want zero-carbon options for their shorter-haul operations.

Speaking to press, Martin said that Nikola decided to offer an all-battery option for its trucks so that the company could fit any route. "Weight is so important in the trucking world, every pound is worth 50 cents," Martin said. But, he added, as batteries get more efficient over the next several years, the balance between battery weight and fuel cell weight might even out over time.

Martin said twice last night that he expects hydrogen fuel cell trucks to make up 80 percent of the company's truck orders, and all-battery trucks to make up the other 20 percent.

"The powertrain of the truck, whether it's hydrogen or electrical, is identical," Martin said, adding that customers can order trucks with hydrogen as a fuel, or they can order trucks with a 500, 750, or 1,000 kilowatt-hour (kWh) battery pack. An efficiency figure for those batteries was not disclosed, nor did the company say who would be supplying the battery packs.

As is common these days, Nikola says that all of its trucks will have hardware for full level-four or level-five autonomy.

Still, the most important thing to come out of last night was the presence of actual demonstration trucks, which will be driving around a convention center track for spectators today. The company has faced criticism for talking big without proof that it can actually make a truck, so offering coRead More – Source

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