Technology 3 min read

Nikola: Meet the Startup Making Hydrogen Powered Trucks a Reality

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There’s something about Nikola Tesla’s name that makes it attractive as a brand name. It evokes innovation, visionary concepts, and futuristic grand plans.

Elon Musk’s Tesla Motors is named after the famed 19th-century scientist whose last name is also taken by another startup: Nikola Motor Company.

And there’s more linking Tesla and Nikola than just a name.

Tesla has jump-started the electric auto industry and, over thirteen years of existence, shaped the global EV market as an innovative leader.

Well, Nikola Motors wants to do just that, but for hydrogen.

Bringing Fuel Cell Trucks to the Mainstream

As hydrogen power becomes more available and cost competitive, hydrogen fuel cell technology keeps improving. This combination of factors promises a revolution that’s already in its infancy.

One of the startups founded in recent years that’s actively contributing to the hydrogen revolution is the Arizona-based Nikola Motors Co., but with a catch.

Nikola thinks big trucks are best suited to running on hydrogen fuel cells.

The company isn’t only designing high-performing hydrogen-powered trucks, it also intends to set a nationwide hydrogen-fueling network comprised of hundreds of stations across the United States.

But Trevor Milton, Nikola CEO, thinks his company’s campaign needs to get different players within the industry on board.

Milton told Forbes that:

“You can’t do this alone. Toyota and the others can’t do it on their own and neither could we. The thing that Nikola brings to the table is we actually provide the entire network, we’re building 700 hydrogen stations around America. It will be the largest in the world.”

Nikola already has $300 million in funding. However, it still needs another $1.25 billion to fund its projects.

We know where $23 million would be going because that’s the amount Nikola spent to purchase 389 acres near Phoenix in central southern Arizona to build a manufacturing plant.

The 1 million-square-foot plant, which will cost more than $1 billion, is scheduled to start full commercial production by 2023 with a capacity of up to 50,000 hydrogen-electric trucks a year.

Last February, Nikola announced its signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with major carmakers and suppliers, including Hyundai, Shell, Toyota, and Air Liquide.

The MoU is for the development and testing of hydrogen fueling components for heavy-duty hydrogen fueling hardware: “to assist in standardization and speed to market for fuel cell electric trucks.”

Nikola’s 700-station fueling network will be complete by 2028.

“Heavy duty fuel cell trucks offer the same range as their conventional diesel counterparts and fueling hardware is being developed to fill in 10 minutes”.

On April 16 and 17, Nikola held a hydrogen tech conference in Scottsdale, Arizona, and a public demo day to ramp up enthusiasm for zero-emission hydrogen trucks among other carmakers, suppliers, investors, and potential customers.

Read More: Researchers Create Hydrogen Fuel From Seawater

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Zayan Guedim

Trilingual poet, investigative journalist, and novelist. Zed loves tackling the big existential questions and all-things quantum.

Comments (3)
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  1. Profile Image
    Isaac Hesson April 17 at 1:34 am GMT

    Obviously, trucks are the greatest contributor of near-road air pollution. Hydrogen powered trucks are an environmentally-friendly alternative to million of trucks run by conventional fossil fuels.

    • Profile Image
      Paul Weidner April 18 at 3:50 am GMT

      The auto industry has proved that it can adapt to the generation’s needs and demands.

    • Profile Image
      Claire Smith April 20 at 8:06 am GMT

      Which is better, hydrogen cars or electric cars?

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