Nikola is a startup that believes the future of trucking is electric, by way of hydrogen. Its latest vehicle, while still years away from actual production, takes that US-centric plan and modifies it for Europe.
Nikola has unveiled the Tre, which means "three" in Norwegian. It's the company's first hydrogen-electric truck for the European market. The US and Europe have different trucking regulations, so a completely different model was required to meet all those unique standards.
That said, the Nikola Tre still has the powertrain in common with. Running on 800-volt batteries, it relies on a hydrogen fuel cell to take compressed hydrogen gas and convert it to electricity, creating potable water as its sole byproduct. It'll be offered in both 6x4 and 6x2 configurations, with between 500 and 1,000 horsepower. Depending on the options chosen, the Tre's range is estimated between 310 and 745 miles.
In the press release for the Tre, Nikola claims that the truck will carry "redundant braking, redundant steering, redundant 800-volt batteries and a redundant 120-kW hydrogen fuel cell, all necessary for true Level 5 autonomy." However, it didn't offer up any additional information regarding autonomy, so take that bit with a grain of salt.
Compressed hydrogen is still a niche fuel, so trying to find a fill-up is still tricky in many corners of the planet. To that end, Nikola is working with Oslo's Nel Hydrogen to help design and roll out its hydrogen filling stations. Nikola hopes to have 700 hydrogen stations in the US and Canada by 2028, and it estimates that it'll have a substantial station presence in Europe by 2030.
It's a tall order, but Nikola has a fair chunk of change to help get it done. The company claims it's received over $11 billion in pre-order reservations so far, and it's likely that introducing Tre will bring in additional reservation cash from Europe. However, Nikola has plenty of time to achieve its goals -- the company won't test the Tre until 2020, and it estimates that production will start in 2022 or 2023, around the same time as its US model.
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