Nikola, BYD team up on emissions-free beer run

Hydrogen fuel cell and battery electric truck makers complete first commercial gig.

Hydrogen fuel cell electric truck maker Nikola Motor Co. and Chinese battery-electric truck maker BYD teamed up to make an emissions-free beer delivery to the arena where the NHL Champion St. Louis Blues play hockey.

In the Nov. 21 test run, Nikola picked up a load of beer at the Anheuser-Busch brewery and drove it to local wholesaler Lohr Distributors. A BYD battery-electric truck then delivered the beer to the Enterprise Center, home of the Blues.

The combination of the two alternative fuels in commercial use was unique because backers of battery electric vehicles and fuel cell vehicles often criticize the other’s technology.

“No single company can build a more sustainable future alone,” said Ingrid De Ryck, Anheuser-Busch vice president of Procurement and Sustainability, “but this zero-emission delivery has shown what is possible when we bring together the various strengths and assets within our supplier network to work towards a shared objective of a better world.”

Anheuser-Busch last year ordered 800 fuel cell trucks from Nikola, a startup that plans to produce Class 8 trucks at a new plant near Phoenix in late 2022.

The brewer also is conducting a pilot program with BYD in California to use 21 battery-electric trucks at four distribution facilities across Southern California. The largest Class 8 electric truck deployment in North America to date will use a 958.5-kilowatt solar array to charge the vehicles.

A BYD electric truck delivers beer to the Enterprise Center, home of the NHL Champion St. Louis Blues on Nov. 21, 2019 (Photo: Anheuser-Busch)

Anheuser-Busch is committed to a 25% reduction in carbon emissions across its value chain by 2025.

“This milestone will become an example for all other [original equipment manufacturers] to move away from diesel trucks and towards zero-emission vehicles,” said Trevor Milton, CEO of Arizona-based Nikola. “We are now preparing production vehicles for Anheuser-Busch and plan on delivering the trucks as fast as possible.”

Antti Lindstrom, an analyst with IHS Markit, said the delivery raises Nikola’s profile. The company “gets to keep itself in the headlines again for a while,” he said.

Alan Adler

Alan Adler is a Detroit-based award-winning journalist who worked for The Associated Press, the Detroit Free Press and most recently as Detroit Bureau Chief for He also spent two decades in domestic and international media relations and executive communications with General Motors.