Nikola's decision to accept orders for its hydrogen fuel cell trucks without a deposit might be seen as foolish from a cash flow perspective, but it also means companies can throw around big orders with little financial skin in the game.
Anheuser-Busch and Nikola announced today that the potent-potable giant has placed an order for 800 hydrogen fuel cell trucks. It's part of A-B's desire to move its fleet entirely to renewable energy by 2025. In that same time period, it hopes to reduce its per-beverage carbon footprint by 25 percent.
All of Anheuser-Busch's eggs aren't in the same basket. The company also placed an order for 40 battery-electric Tesla Semis in December. Those orders require $20,000 deposits per truck, so it makes sense that A-B's Tesla order would be much smaller. Nikola announced in April that it would no longer require deposits, and that it would refund those who already put deposits down. The company uses the net value of its preorders, currently somewhere in the $9 billion range, in its marketing material.
Nikola originally announced its truck with amated to a gas-powered turbine range extender, but it was later . The trucks have an estimated range between 500 and 1,200 miles, which is a bit more than what Tesla promises with the Semi (500 miles on the high end). Nikola's production is estimated to kick off in 2020.
The only trouble with Nikola's reliance on hydrogen is a near-total lack of US infrastructure. Nearly all the hydrogen infrastructure in the US is limited to states on the east and west coasts, and automakers with hydrogen vehicles have generally refused to dump large amounts of money to expand the number of stations. Nikola's press release says the company anticipates there being "over 700" hydrogen stations in the US and Canada by 2028, but it's unclear where those stations will come from.
Anheuser-Busch's deposit represents a low-risk investment in fledgling logistics tech. If it pays off, it could help reduce emissions in a big way and help companies drastically reduce their carbon footprints.