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Nikola gets boost to European fuel cell truck business

100-truck letter of intent contingent on German incentives

Nikola received a letter of intent for 100 fuel cell electric trucks in Europe. But the purchase order is contingent on the would-be purchaser receiving German incentives. (Photo: Nikola Corp.)

A German provider of integrated energy solutions has signed a letter of intent to purchase 100 hydrogen-powered trucks from Nikola Corp. It is the startup’s first prospective European customer for Nikola Tre fuel cell electric vehicles.

A letter of intent is not the same as a purchase order. But it boosts Nikola’s manufacturing joint venture with Iveco in Ulm, Germany. That’s where the trucks would be built for delivery in 2024 and 2025.

GP Joule, based in Reussenkoege, Germany, wants the European 6×2 variant of the Tre for its customers in transport and logistics. 

Nikola orders contingent on financial incentives

There is a catch. The order is contingent on GP Joule getting incentives through KsNI, a German funding program. The program supports acquisition of vehicles with alternative, climate-friendly powertrains. Hydrogen-powered fuel cells emit only water vapor. 

European production in Ulm begins in the first half of 2024. Thirty 30 Tre fuel cell trucks are expected to be delivered in 2024 and 70 in 2025. With incentives, GP Joule and Iveco Group may market more fuel cell trucks in 2026 to European customers. GP Joule will provide 100% green hydrogen from its hydrogen refueling station network.

“Together with Nikola and IVECO, we offer our customers all the components for climate-neutral heavy-duty transport from a single source: from the production and purchase of green hydrogen to the hydrogen filling stations to the fuel cell trucks and service that meet their needs,” Andre Steinau, managing director at GP Joule Hydrogen, said in a news release.


Nikola fuel cell truck production begins later this year

Nikola begins production of Tre fuel cell trucks this year at its plant in Coolidge, Arizona. Its first U.S. letters of intent stage, include PGT Truck. The Aliquippa, Pennsylvania flatbed hauler intends to lease 100 fuel cell trucks. Hydrogen processor Plug Power also plans to order up to 75 fuel cell trucks over the next three years. 

U.S. purchase orders also rely on incentives, such as those from California that could cut the acquisition price of a fuel cell truck by 40% to 70%.

In the U.S. and Europe, Nikola plans to offer a bundled package of a truck, maintenance, service and fuel for seven years for a single monthly payment. In Europe, Iveco Group Financial Services may use its GATE — Green & Advanced Transport Ecosystem — an all-inclusive electric truck rental model for the fuel cell trucks.

“The order from GP Joule will be an example of how the Nikola Tre FCEV can further support commercial customers in Germany in their transition towards zero-emissions several years ahead of other OEMs,” said Michael Lohscheller, Nikola president and CEO. 

Incentives could shave 70% off price of Nikola fuel cell truck

Plug Power will buy up to 75 Nikola fuel cell trucks

Nikola gets real on hydrogen with 60 stations planned by 2026

Click for more FreightWaves articles by Alan Adler.

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Alan Adler

Alan Adler is an award-winning journalist who worked for The Associated Press and the Detroit Free Press. He also spent two decades in domestic and international media relations and executive communications with General Motors.