By on December 21, 2021

Having recently posted an article highlighting some of Nikola’s bad behavior, it’s only fair that the company receives some acknowledgment for delivering on a promise. Last week, the company shipped the first examples of its Tre battery-electric trucks in California.

Two test vehicles were issued to Total Transportation Services Inc. (TTSI) to see how the Tre handles running deliveries in and out of Los Angeles and Long Beach ports. The trucking firm has a letter of intent from Nikola to purchase 100 trucks following a trial program of two Tre BEVs and their fuel-cell (FCEV) counterparts once the latter is in production. 

Granted, it’s just two trucks and they’re not even the finalized version. But it’s still a meaningful step in making Nikola more than the scandal-ridden façade that helped its founder rake in millions. If things go well, it might even become a productive automaker forcing your author to eat crow. I’ve had my doubts about Nikola and battery electric semis in general after numerous engineers claimed that there was no way to square the energy density needed to make a functional long-haul delivery rig.

However, Nikola has the Tre offering a claimed range of 350 miles due to its exceptionally large 753.0-kWh battery pack. The unit is supposed to be capable of going from 10 to 80 percent charge in two hours when getting smacked with 240 kW and has a gross combined vehicle weight of 82,000. We’re not sure how the load will impact the range. But the 350 miles is the maximum, presumably indicating a totally unburdened truck. That leaves us with some questions as to how far it can haul its cargo. Though with 645 continuous e-horses on tap it should be capable of dragging around its payload at an electronically governed 75 mph without much trouble.

Nikola said it planned on getting TTSI an additional 30 battery-electric trucks in 2022 after the company has finished testing the duo it’s already sent over. But the FCEVs are a bit of a mystery. It’s still not clear how deep into development the hydrogen trucks are. But the company is supposed to commence deliveries in 2023 — and not just in the United States. Nikola also has deals in Germany, thanks to its partnership with Iveco.

[Images: Nikola]

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13 Comments on “Nikola Delivers Electric Semi Trucks in California...”

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    FWIW, Tesla claims its Semi will get about 0.5 miles/kWh when fully loaded.

    Nikola’s claim looks similar.

    This delivery is a surprise. Nikola should note that they beat Tesla to this application. On the other hand, Tesla is already running Semi prototypes around, gaining lots of useful experience.

    • 0 avatar

      If EV semi makers can really hit 0.5 mi/kWh, diesel trucks are dead machines rolling for local applications (like the port drayage the initial trucks are supposed to be doing).

      Whether this $h!tshow of a maker is the one that will ultimately sell all the electric trucks is a different question.

  • avatar

    too bad ford sold all their large truck assets to sterling

  • avatar

    Well, it’ll be interesting to see where this story goes.

  • avatar

    What happened with the hydrogen? What a joke. The body is from a European truck company not made by nikola. They’re desperate but they’re a fraud Spac. I’m glad they’re going down with GM for lying to investors.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      They say the hydrogen is coming in 2023, but that’s a joke because it will never be viable.

      Now that you mention it, putting together a home-grown truck body/chassis is no small undertaking. This development makes more sense if they simply electrified an existing product.

      • 0 avatar

        We are just about ready to deliver a 15,000 psi hydrogen pressure test system to them, so there is at least some hydrogen development going on there.

        Honestly if they have a BEV unit running, a FCEV is just combining different parts to achieve the same goal. the running gear should be the same, H2 storage is commercially available, and fuel cell technology is understood enough to build commercial units. It’s just combining all 3 into a commercially viable package.

        • 0 avatar
          SCE to AUX

          If a Mirai costs as much to drive as a Hellcat, and H2 filling stations are as rare as a Biden tax cut, I can’t see Nikola ever producing a commercially viable H2 truck.

    • 0 avatar

      This inspired me to do a bit of googling and I noticed that the sheetmetal appears to be straight from the Iveco S-Way.

  • avatar

    I’m curious of the weight penalty. I had figured that for a decent Highway range the tractor would need 1.0-1.2MkW battery pack, this one is 752kW, and I assume that’s the usable capacitor. So the math is easy: total gross vehicle weight cannot exceed 80,000 lbs, so what is the weight penalty vs a typical diesel tractor? I would guess is somewhere between 5000 and 10,000 lbs. and a fully loaded range of 200-250 miles real world.

  • avatar

    Not really a Tesla fanboy here, but I would say that Nikola’s “delivery” means very little as compared to Tesla’s in development Semi. Nikola uses a rebadged Iveco S-Way chassis and Bosch did the electric drivetrain integration if I recall details correctly from the Hindenburg report. So basically, the Tre is largely a collection of off the shelf components or components built by other firms using their own technology. The Tre isn’t even assembled by Nikola I believe I think the prototype line is in Germany with Bosch as well. This goes back to one of the roots of the Nikola fraud which was they claimed to have radically innovative proprietary technology and designs and they were hiding that they were using others readily available tech. Basically, Nikola in its current operating state is just a marketing brand that hypes and markets current technology, that is until they complete their own plant in Phoenix and develop something on their own. Even if the Tre goes into serial production, I am sure Nikola will be paying royalties or other significant fees for all the tech they are pulling from others.

  • avatar

    We’ll I hope they can find drivers!

  • avatar

    Dual fuel hybrids make more sense in the interim. There’s a trucking company in my town that is trialing 2 hydrogen/diesel hybrids. The truck is good for 1,000 km running a mix of diesel and hydrogen. When it runs out of hydrogen it just switches over to diesel. The system does not affect factory warranty. There’s a local company that makes chemicals for the pulp industry and a waste biproduct is hydrogen. It’s a win/win for the parties involved and now they are working on increasing production.

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