Nikola Motor Company is paving the way as a global leader in zero-emissions transportation as it began producing its first battery-electric semi-truck, according to CNBC.
Nikola, founded in 2015, in Phoenix, Arizona is an electric vehicle startup that designs and manufactures heavy-duty commercial battery-electric vehicles (BEV), fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEV), and energy infrastructure solutions.
Nikola CEO Mark Russell had said in a February earnings call that production will begin on March 21 at its Coolidge factory and laid out plans to deliver 300 to 500 Tre BEV semi-trucks in the second quarter of this year, while planning to increase the production in the following year. The Tre model has an estimated range of 350 miles, with a charging time of 120 minutes meaning the semi-truck will be operational on relatively shorter routes. The company has up to 450 for this vehicle.
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The company is expected to generate about $117 million in sales during 2022, up from zero sales reported in 2021.
Nikola's original claim to fame was its hybrid fuel cell technology, which is cool, but the first run of Tre trucks isn't hydrogen-powered. The day cab Tre BEV makes 645 continuous horsepower with its nine battery packs that are nestled inside its frame. Tre BEV makes use of a single driven axle that's backed up by another undriven one for load support, even though its max towing capacity has not been disclosed. The semi-truck is classified as a Class 8 vehicle, meaning it has a gross vehicle weight rating of over 33,001 pounds, which is no surprise since it's surely heavy enough without a trailer.
While the longer-range version of the Tre, which is powered by a hydrogen fuel cell and has a range of 500 miles, will be shipped late next year, and it has up to 800 orders from the brewing company Anheuser-Busch. The longer version of the Tre will be followed by what the company calls a “next-generation” fuel-cell model in 2025, suitable for long-haul routes with up to 900 miles of range.
The company offers direct sales, but it also has a small dealer network that includes a new store in Arizona that was also announced this week. These retail outlets seem to mainly be treated as places of contact for potential customers where they can get hands-on experience with the semis, in addition to the demos the company has provided to a handful of freight and logistics operations.
Nikola sold a few pre-production Tre BEVs to the Port of Los Angeles last December. The company says that it has built 40 Tre BEVs before serial production began, with 18 of them being delivered already and the remaining 22 awaiting final checks and commissioning.
Announcement soared the share prices
After the announcement, on March 23, at its Analyst Day Presentation, Nikola’s shares were increased by more than 15 percent since the announcement.
The company’s stock prices were once high but after its founder, Trevor Milton, was indicted on federal fraud charges related to his statements prior to the company’s initial public offering and departed Nikola, they have crashed down to single digits.
While this advancement wouldn't make Nikola a bigger success than Tesla, at least the startup begin producing its semi-truck to market first. But Tesla also seems to be advancing to this stage as well.
The company is not making profits these days but the production of the electric semi-truck got Nikola’s investors hopeful after a long while. Now it's time for Nikola investors to wait and see the turn of interest into orders.