Watch Now

Nikola Motor to build hydrogen-electric trucks in $1B Arizona manufacturing plant

Nikola Motor Co. announced today that it will build a new $1B manufacturing plant just outside Phoenix to build the Nikola hydrogen-electric truck.

After reviewing 30 site locations, Nikola Motor Co. has announced that Buckeye, AZ – just outside Phoenix – will be the location for its manufacturing headquarters. The company made the announcement today at a press conference in the city.

The facility, to be situated on a 500-acre site on the west side of Phoenix, will cover 1 million square feet and bring more than $1 billion in capital investment to the region by 2024, the company said in a joint press release with Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey’s office. Up to 2,000 jobs are expected to be created.

“After 12 months, nine states and 30 site locations, Arizona Gov. Ducey, Sandra Watson and Chris Camacho were the clear front runners. Arizona has the workforce to support our growth and a governor that was an entrepreneur himself. They understood what 2,000 jobs would mean to their cities and state,” said Trevor Milton, CEO and founder, Nikola Motor Company. “We will begin transferring our R&D and headquarters to Arizona immediately and hope to have the transition completed by October 2018. We have already begun planning the construction for our new zero emission manufacturing facility in Buckeye, which we expect to have underway by the end of 2019.”

Nikola Motor is building the Nikola One and Nikola Two hydrogen-electric trucks. U.S. Xpress is a big early backer of the vehicle, and will be involved in real-world testing of the trucks. According to Nikola, more than 8,000 trucks are on pre-order.

The company cited Arizona’s pro-business environment, engineering schools, educated workforce and geographic location as key factors in the decision.

“Nikola Motor Company’s selection of Arizona demonstrates that we are leading the charge when it comes to attracting innovative, industry-disrupting companies,” said Ducey. “This incredible new technology will revolutionize transportation, and we’re very proud it will be engineered right here in Arizona. I thank Nikola’s CEO Trevor Milton and his entire team for this significant investment in our state.”

Construction of the facility is expected to begin in late 2019 and will be part of a master planned community being developed by El Dorado Holdings and JDM Partners that will eventually be home for more than 300,000 residents.

“I’ve worked on many economic development issues in my career but being part of this team that brings Nikola Motors to Arizona is very satisfying,” said Mike Ingram, founder & chairman of El Dorado Partners. “We look forward to announcing additional partners who will join Nikola at Douglas Ranch in the near future as we start to build momentum and unlock its full economic power.”

In December, WABCO announced it was investing $10 million as part of a strategic investment in Nikola.

WABCO produces electric and highly automated commercial vehicle components, including components that are being used on the Nikola One – the sleeper version of the vehicle, expected to enter testing later this year and full production by 2021. The Nikola Two is a day cab model and will follow Nikola One.

“As vehicles become increasingly autonomous, electric and connected, WABCO continues to be at the forefront of breakthrough technology innovation,” said Jacques Esculier, WABCO chairman and CEO. “We are excited to invest in Nikola Motor Company to help the industry realize our joint vision of electrified and autonomous trucks, buses, trailers and off-highway vehicles. WABCO’s technologies, notably industry-leading braking, traction and stability control systems, continue to advance the transportation industry.”

The vehicle will also feature the eAxle from Bosch. The eAxle “is a scalable, modular platform with the motor, power electronics and transmission in one compact unit,” the companies said in a release. Available for vehicles of all types, from small passenger cars to light trucks, the eAxle will allow Bosch and Nikola to fully integrate the overall powertrain system.

The truck’s electric engine is powered by a hydrogen fuel cell and produces 2,000 lbs.-ft. of torque and 1,000 hp. with a 320 kWh battery. Regenerative braking is used to supply power. Zero to 60 acceleration under load is said to be 30 seconds as compared to 60 seconds for a diesel unit.

The battery storage system features 32,000 individual lithium-ion cells welded together for the battery pack – three times the size of a Tesla Model S P90D. MPG will be about double that of a diesel model, ranging from 13 to 15 mpg depending on specific operating conditions. With a 2,000 lbs. estimated weight saving (18,000 to 21,000 lbs. vs. 19,000 to 23,000 lbs. for a diesel unit), Nikola says that vehicles could potentially haul additional weight leading to up to $1,000 extra revenue per load.

The fuel economy edge, the company says, is achieved through aerodynamics, no idling, battery charging through regenerative braking, a 6×4 four-wheel drive configuration and the efficient electric motors (said to be up to 95% efficient) and a fuel cell up to 70% efficient.

Stay up-to-date with the latest commentary and insights on FreightTech and the impact to the markets by subscribing.

Brian Straight

Brian Straight leads FreightWaves' Modern Shipper brand as Managing Editor. A journalism graduate of the University of Rhode Island, he has covered everything from a presidential election, to professional sports and Little League baseball, and for more than 10 years has covered trucking and logistics. Before joining FreightWaves, he was previously responsible for the editorial quality and production of Fleet Owner magazine and Brian lives in Connecticut with his wife and two kids and spends his time coaching his son’s baseball team, golfing with his daughter, and pursuing his never-ending quest to become a professional bowler. You can reach him at [email protected]