Nikola ‘electric truck’ getting hydrogen fuel cell for U.S., Canadian market

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Updated Jan 4, 2024

nikola_one_Red 1Nikola Motor Company, who earlier last month announced that its truck would output zero emissions, this week confirmed that zero NOx is thanks to a hydrogen fuel cell.

The company says the electric drivetrain used in the U.S. and Canadian markets will be powered by a custom-built hydrogen-electric 800V fuel cell and will achieve nearly 20 MPG with zero emissions under full load. The move to hydrogen is a switch from the CNG-powered range extender the company has touted since it burst onto the scene in May.

Trevor Milton, Nikola Motor Company CEO says customers who pre-ordered a Nikola One earlier this year will receive a model equipped with a hydrogen fuel cell, not a CNG-powered turbine as originally advertised. Milton adds the same million mile free fuel plan will be extended to hydrogen.
“So far we have had only five cancellations and more than 50 new orders since [Tuesday] so we’ve had a net increase of 48 trucks in two days,” Milton adds.

Milton says the desire to be fully emission free in North America was a critical piece of the company’s long-term engineering and environmental efforts.

“Nikola plans to have a nationwide network of over 50 hydrogen stations for customers to begin fueling by 2020,” he adds. “This will make Nikola Motor Company the first company in the world to be 100 percent emission-free from energy production to transportation to consumption. Say goodbye to the days of dirty diesels and after treatment in the heavy duty class 8 market.”

Notable with Nikola’s conversion to a hydrogen fuel cell is that projected horsepower has been cut in half. This power would have been cut in half from the CNG turbine version also due to tire life expectancy.

Both the CNG turbine and Hydrogen fuel cell powerplant can output the original HP and torque ratings announced, but Nikola has decided to software limit both to extend the tire life –from 2,000 to 1,000

The CNG turbine version of the Nikola ONE will be available for other countries where hydrogen is not readily available. Nikola One is expected to be unveiled in Salt Lake City in December.

Jason Cannon has written about trucking and transportation for more than a decade and serves as Chief Editor of Commercial Carrier Journal. A Class A CDL holder, Jason is a graduate of the Porsche Sport Driving School, an honorary Duckmaster at The Peabody in Memphis, Tennessee, and a purple belt in Brazilian jiu jitsu. Reach him at [email protected]
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