Nikola sees the energy transition in the Arizona desert
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COOLIDGE, Ariz. – Several customers recently completed Nikola Tre Class 8 battery-electric trucks stood ready for delivery inside Nikola Corp.’s new assembly plant, a scene described by company executives as a watershed moment as the white cab BEVs will generate 7-year-old Nikola’s first quarterly revenue.
Generating revenue is the biggest step for any pre-revenue startup, said Nikola Corp. CEO Mark Russell, who noted that everything the company has spent so far has been raised from investors. .
“It’s a big day that we’ve been looking forward to for a long time,” he said during an April 27 plant tour that marked the start of commercial mass truck production.
An electric battery in production at the Arizona plant. (Roger Gilroy/Transportation Topics)
“It’s nothing short of amazing that we’ve come this far,” added Russell. “We are finally going to be paid. Today marks the day of the transition to customer deliveries. We will be a revenue-generating business, and always will be.
Inside the long, new facility where Nikola launched initial production of the Tre on March 31, 14 stations and 64 employees assembled the trucks – working on wiring harnesses, batteries, cabs, axles and hundreds other parts. About two or three dozen others were working behind a big black curtain on fuel cell-related computer work.
Several units were in various stages of completion, but six were ready for delivery to fleet customers, including TTSI, Saia, Univar Solutions, Covenant, Avant Garde and Biagi Bros.
Arizona Governor Doug Ducey was on hand for the event, along with fleet customers, government officials, business leaders and media.
Ducey said Nikola is “a driving force in Arizona’s growing electric vehicle industry. Designing and building an electric truck factory from scratch is no small task. Nikola has shown extraordinary determination in pursuing this vision.
Ducey mentioned Atlis Motor Vehicles, Lucid Motors, ElectraMeccanica and Zero Electric Vehicles among other state companies focused on vehicle electrification. In the battery supply chain segment, there are Kore Power, LG Energy Solution and Li-Cycle.
“The future of mobility is emission-free,” said Michael Lohscheller, President of Nikola Motor. “And we have exactly the right product here and now to do just that. When you look around the world, more and more cities say “only trucks or electric cars are allowed in”. ”
Today the #NikolaTeam and other attendees gathered to celebrate the mass production of the #NikolaTreBEV. A special thank you to the Governor @DougDucey for supporting our vision. Now it’s back to work to put these trucks back in the hands of our first customers! #Launch2022 pic.twitter.com/7OIar7gW6P
— Nikola Motor Company (@nikolamotor) April 28, 2022
A joint venture plant in Ulm, Germany, with truck manufacturer Iveco is also ready to start. “The production line here mirrors the one there, but this one will have more capacity,” Russell said, noting that Nikola shifted initial focus to North America from Europe because it was more suitable. to Tre’s range of up to 350 miles with a 750 kilowatt battery.
Nikola plans to build 300 to 500 Tre BEVs in 2022 at the Coolidge plant for dealers and customers, with an initial annual production capacity of 2,500 trucks.
With the initial 290,000 square foot construction complete, Nikola said the next phase of the facility’s expansion — which will add an additional 150,000 square feet — is underway and expected to be completed in 2023. Nikola said the production capacity at the end of this phase will be up to 20,000 trucks per year on two shifts.
After two more planned expansion phases, the entire factory when completed will be 1 million square feet.
Nikola, who is based in Phoenix 55 miles north, owns 430 acres of land in the Coolidge countryside just off I-10. A neighbor has pinto and brown horses parked along the road, and treeless brown mountains stretch to the horizon. Nearby are also huge cotton and alfalfa farms. It’s an austere place for Nikola’s radical vision of emission-free “green” trucking, including, soon, hydrogen fuel cell trucks.
Russell said Nikola will add the fuel cell version of the Nikola Tre based on the same platform, or skateboard, in 2023. The truck will have a longer range than the battery-powered truck.
“Trucks are the important piece of the puzzle, and the most visible. But what we’re really talking about here is an energy transition,” Russell said. “These trucks are perfectly suited to be able to use renewable energy because they can be recharged — and we would like them to be able to be recharged quickly — and recharge them as much as possible with energy from renewable sources. We are in the middle of one of the best places in the world for solar power.
He noted that hydrogen is the most energy dense fuel on the planet. “We could also make hydrogen using this renewable energy,” Russell said.
Nikola Motor Co. was established in 2015. It went public in June 2020 after shareholders of VectoIQ Acquisition Corp. voted in favor of the previously announced business combination with this company.