Nikola Motor Co. plans to begin delivering its hydrogen fuel cell electric Class 8 tractors this month. During a celebratory launch at its manufacturing facility in Coolidge, Arizona, Nikola CEO Steve Girsky said the company has 223 non-binding orders from 23 fleets, including J.B. Hunt, AJR Trucking, Biagi Bros. and TTSI.
“As we head into the fourth quarter, we are focused on delivering our trucks at scale and securing our position as pioneers in the hydrogen refueling ecosystem to support our customers,” Girsky said.
While speaking during the celebration, Pedro Garcia, global head of product development for Nikola, said the company has focused on performance, safety and reliability. Nikola conducted two rounds of summer testing in Arizona, two rounds of winter testing in Michigan and high-altitude testing in Colorado.
The trucks hold 70 kg of hydrogen, which gives them about 500 miles of range. They can refuel in about 20 minutes. Nikola is currently building fueling infrastructure through its HYLA brand with plans to create a “hydrogen highway” that offers “a safe, cost-effective and flawless customer experience," said Joe Capello, president of Nikola Energy.
Capello said Nikola will partner with existing truck stops but did not share which companies it is working with on fueling. In a statement, Nikola said the company has been awarded potential grant funds to help facilitate the ongoing development of hydrogen refueling stations along key California freight corridors. Additionally, Nikola has partnered with Voltera to develop 50 HYLA stations in the next five years.
“As we receive these significant grants and form strategic partnerships, we’re forging ahead on our mission to build a comprehensive zero-emission transportation solution,” Cappello said.
Matt Horton, CEO of Voltera, said stations will have two pumps but will be set up for future expansion. Many of the locations will also feature charging, and Horton said it is a good idea to put power generation on site for resilience. Fueling infrastructure will begin with interim fueling locations, which Horton said helps validate demand in the area, before expanding to flagship fueling facilities.
HYLA has created interim fueling equipment, which features 1,000-kg hydrogen storage tanks and pumps. Mike Archibald, global head of hydrogen infrastructure projects for Nikola, said the company is talking with truck stops about placing mobile fueling equipment but said the company hasn’t released information on potential partners.
The mobile fueling equipment can fuel about 18 trucks every 24-hours. Archibald said there is typically a three-month permitting process required to get a mobile fueling station in place, which is much faster than for permanent fueling locations, which can take several years to have permitted and built.
// This article was created for Stop Watch magazine, the magazine of the NATSO Foundation. The NATSO Foundation is the research, education and public outreach subsidiary of NATSO, Inc. The NATSO Foundation provides programs and products to strengthen travel plazas’ ability to meet the traveling public's needs through improved operational performance and business planning. Visit www.natsofoundation.org for more information. (Donate to the NATSO Foundation here.)
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