Sector: CNG

Nikola One - Model 3's big brother

Unless you've been living under a rock, you've heard about Tesla, right? They're all over the place, so we're not going to tell you something you already know. Instead, meet Nikola – a completely unrelated manufacturer of EVs, including one with a gaseous twist.
Nikola One all-electric truck tractor© Nikola MotorIt may not be pretty, but it sure does stand out

Nikola was Tesla's (the inventor's) first name, so that's what the new company most probably relates to, but other than that there's absolutely no relation between the newcomer and the brainchild of entrepreneur and visionary Elon Musk. So as long as we're clear on that, let's move on.

Nikola One is a long-distance truck tractor with a projected range of up to 1200 miles (over 1900 km). And it's an all-electric vehicle! Where did they manage to store all the batteries to provide this kind of range and why are we writing about an EV in the first place? Well, they didn't and well, we're not. The innovative truck features an on-board power-generating turbine that can run on pretty much any fuel, including CNG – compressed natural gas.

The parameters of the truck are quite impressive. According to Nikola, One's electric motors generate 2000 PS of power and 3700 lb/ft (5018 Nm) of torque! Of course, truck tractors have far more oomph than passenger cars, but this particular vehicle's figures make its diesel-powered equivalents look poor and weak – according to Nikola Motor, regular trucks generate a quarter of One's power and a half of its torque. This means the EV hauler can hit a top speed of 65 mph when running up a 6% hill under load (versus 20-40 mph with a diesel truck) and accelerates from standstill to 60 mph in 30 seconds (versus 1 minute).

Nikola One - CNG tanks© Nikola MotorCNG is stored in a back-of-the-cab set of tanks

Despite featuring a 320 kWh battery (which never has to be recharged from the socket – the generator provides all the energy the motors need in real time), Nikola One is actually lighter than comparable conventional vehicles by 1000-2000 pounds (450-900 kg). And it's fuel economy is by 2-3 times better than that of a diesel – it uses more affordable fuel and only burns it at a stable rev speed to run the 400 kW generator which then transfers power to 95% efficient electric motors. Recalculated to regular fuel gallon equivalent, Nikola One has a fuel economy figure of 10-15 MPG (15,7-23,5 l/100 km), whereas diesel trucks only manage 5,5 MPG on average (42,8 l/100 km).

Nikola One - the dashboard© Nikola MotorThe driver works in comfortable conditions and can monitor the powertrain's efficiency on the dashboard

Now comes the best part – if you reserve your Nikola One tractor as one of the first 5000 customers, you will receive free fuel for a million miles (over 1 million 600 thousand km)! That's if you choose to lease the vehicle for a monthly fee of 5000, which entitles you to replace the truck with a new one after 6 years or one million miles. Oh, and the free fuel can only be obtained from stations belonging to Nikola's planned network of more than 50 CNG retail points. Once complete, the network is expected to provide one station every 400 miles, so with 1200 miles of range (thanks to 100 diesel gallon equivalent of CNG onboard) the One should be easily able to refuel. For customers placing their reservations beyond the first 5000 mark, fuel will be available at Nikola stations for $1,50 per DGE.

Seems a bit far out? Maybe, but perhaps the trucking industry has been sticking to the same solutions and technologies for too long and now that truly innovative solutions are at hand, they appear to be science fiction. We wish Nikola success and hope to hear more CNG-related news from the company soon!


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Robert Markowski
source: Nikola Motor 2012-2018 All rights reserved. By using this site you acknowledge that you accept its Terms and Conditions