• ITVI.USA
    13,795.070
    81.410
    0.6%
  • OTRI.USA
    26.560
    -0.120
    -0.4%
  • OTVI.USA
    13,740.380
    64.000
    0.5%
  • TLT.USA
    2.720
    -0.060
    -2.2%
  • TSTOPVRPM.ATLPHL
    2.670
    0.130
    5.1%
  • TSTOPVRPM.CHIATL
    2.930
    0.280
    10.6%
  • TSTOPVRPM.DALLAX
    1.320
    -0.020
    -1.5%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXDAL
    3.040
    0.050
    1.7%
  • TSTOPVRPM.PHLCHI
    1.740
    0.050
    3%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXSEA
    3.210
    0.000
    0%
  • WAIT.USA
    108.000
    5.000
    4.9%
  • ITVI.USA
    13,795.070
    81.410
    0.6%
  • OTRI.USA
    26.560
    -0.120
    -0.4%
  • OTVI.USA
    13,740.380
    64.000
    0.5%
  • TLT.USA
    2.720
    -0.060
    -2.2%
  • TSTOPVRPM.ATLPHL
    2.670
    0.130
    5.1%
  • TSTOPVRPM.CHIATL
    2.930
    0.280
    10.6%
  • TSTOPVRPM.DALLAX
    1.320
    -0.020
    -1.5%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXDAL
    3.040
    0.050
    1.7%
  • TSTOPVRPM.PHLCHI
    1.740
    0.050
    3%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXSEA
    3.210
    0.000
    0%
  • WAIT.USA
    108.000
    5.000
    4.9%
CanadaNewsSustainability

How a Nikola executive went from ‘oil brat’ to zero emissions

'I was crushed' after seeing the environmental impacts while working in the Canadian energy industry.

Long before Elizabeth Fretheim became an executive at a firm developing zero-emissions trucks, Nikola Motor Company (NASDAQ:NKLA), oil featured prominently in her life. She lived in six countries by the age of seven because of her father’s work in the industry.

“I was an oil brat,” the Nikola’s head of business development at told attendees at Transparency19 in Atlanta on May 7.

But Fretheim had a realization 15 years ago while working on a project to design and build a workforce hotel in the oil sands of northern Alberta, Canada. She saw the massive tailings ponds left behind from the extraction process. “I was crushed,” she said.

“I had been eating at the energy buffet and needed to get back to the French restaurant,” Fretheim said. “I changed what I wanted to do.”

Fretheim later joined Walmart as senior director of supply chain sustainability. She was tasked with doubling fleet efficiency.

“We were able to achieve it in about 10 years. Proving that sustainability could make business sense, we saved the company about $1 billion a year,” Fretheim said.

At Nikola, Fretheim works with fleets to transition to the company’s forthcoming zero-emissions trucks, which will launch with hydrogen fuel cell models. Trevor Milton founded the electric truck startup in 2014.

“I believe we are building trucks that will compete with diesel,” Fretheim said.

Fretheim working with fleets to deploy hydrogen fueling stations for Nikola’s future trucks

In a conversation with John Paul Hampstead, associate editor of FreightWaves, Fretheim noted that interest in Nikola trucks extends from large fleets to owner-operators.

“They really want to understand this technology,” Fretheim said.

Fretheim also explained that Nikola opted to launch hydrogen fuel cell models before electric to serve fleets that conduct long hauls or need to do quick turnarounds.

“I don’t want to say one is better than the other,” she said.  

Nikola is working on building a network of 700 hydrogen fueling stations that will cover the United States and Canada during the next decade, starting in California. The placement of those stations will depend on the needs of fleets, Fretheim said.

“We need to do this in a structured and strategic way, so we’re going to be working with our customers, and really grow with them as we look at where these stations will be,” Fretheim said.

Click for more FreightWaves articles by Nate Tabak

Amid supply chain disruptions, open networks foster agility, collaboration

How Walmart solved carrier payment woes in Canada with blockchain

Ransomware attack hits Canadian trucking company Manitoulin


Tags

Nate Tabak, Border and North America Correspondent

Nate Tabak is a Toronto-based journalist who covers cross-border trucking, logistics and trade for FreightWaves. Before moving to Canada, he spent seven years reporting stories in the Balkans and Eastern Europe as a reporter, producer and editor based in Kosovo. He previously worked at newspapers in the San Francisco Bay Area, including the San Jose Mercury News. He graduated from UC Berkeley, where he studied the history of American policing. Contact Nate at ntabak@freightwaves.com.
Close