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Nikola Motor to refund reservation money for hydrogen truck amid tease of major fleet announcement

Hinting that it has just received a large contract with “one of the most recognized and valuable brands in the world,” Nikola Motor Company announced last week that it will be refunding all monies paid as part of a reservation to receive a Nikola One hydrogen-electric truck.

“All reservations will be refunded 100% and you won’t lose your place in line. We don’t use your money to operate our business. We want everyone to know we have never used a dollar of deposit money in the history of our company. All deposits will be refunded < 60 days,” the company wrote in Twitter last week, just days after a teasing tweet about a large order.

It is unclear how many customers placed deposits for a vehicle, but Nikola is touting a large number in reservations.

“You can now reserve a Nikola One or Two without any deposit at With over 8 + billion in pre order reservations, who needs deposits anyways!” it said in a separate tweet.

On March 31, Nikola teased a large order from a major brand “to replace their entire fleet with Nikola hydrogen electric trucks” on Twitter. The company noted that it would be installed up to 28 hydrogen fuel stations along the company’s routes as part of the deal. An announcement could come by the first week of May, it said.

Just days after that tweet came an announcement from Nel Hydrogen of a $5.5 million purchase order from Nikola Motor.  Nel describes itself as “a global, dedicated hydrogen company, delivering optimal solutions to produce, store and distribute hydrogen from renewable energy.”

“We are very proud to announce that we have received an additional order from Nikola related to the electrolyzer and fueling solution for their prototype trucks. The order marks a strengthening of our partnership and is a recognition of the level of competence our team and hydrogen solutions can offer. We look forward to supplying the demo stations, which will lay the groundwork for the world’s largest, most efficient network of low-cost hydrogen production and fueling sites,” said Jon André Løkke, CEO of Nel.

On Nov. 15, 2017, Nikola and Nel announced the exclusive partnership and a purchase order for two so-called demo hydrogen refueling stations for Nikola’s fleet of prototype hydrogen trucks. The partnership aims at developing low-cost, renewable hydrogen production and fueling sites for the potential development of 14 large-scale sites, however, Nikola and Nel are now evaluating if the initial station number should be doubled to 28 stations.

“The Nikola hydrogen electric semi-trucks will begin testing with fleets in 2019 and begin full production in 2021. One of the most respected brands in America just signed an order with Nikola to convert 100% of their fleet over to Nikola trucks. This will require an additional 28 more stations to go up to support those efforts on top of the existing Nel purchase order. Nel has been a great partner to work with and we are excited to begin replacing diesels in America with zero emission trucks. The future for zero emission trucks has never been brighter,” said Trevor Milton, CEO of Nikola.

Nikola has made a series of announcements in the past six months, including a new $1 billion manufacturing plant in Arizona and receiving a $10 million investment from WABCO Holdings.

The Arizona 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. 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 Milton at the announcement. “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.


    1. T B

      Could also be some form or division of UPS, FedEx or a Amazon subcontractor. I can only see this being good for terminal to terminal operations where the route is defined and consistent.

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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]