Nikola Corp. is going all-in on hydrogen fuel cells with Bosch Group, licensing the German supplier’s technology to assemble modules for Class 7 and Class 8 heavy-duty electric trucks at its new plant in the Arizona desert.
“We evaluated all the options and are launching our vehicles with the fuel cell modules from this agreement,” a Nikola spokeswoman told FreightWaves. “We will continue to monitor available technology for fuel cell components.”
Nikola has worked for several years on fuel cells with Bosch, first committing to use the zero-emission technology on trucks it will build in a European manufacturing joint venture with Iveco. Nikola’s global head of fuel cell electric vehicles, Jason Roycht, joined Nikola in November 2019 after a career at Bosch.
Nikola shares closed 0.93% lower at $10.66 Thursday. In December, Bosch sold 4.26 million of its 18.82 million Nikola shares, cutting its stake from 6.4% to 4.9%.
Assembling fuel cell trucks for testing
The licenses from Bosch allow Nikola to incorporate pre-assembled fuel cell modules and components at Nikola’s plant in Coolidge, Arizona, where Roycht told FreightWaves that Nikola is assembling seven fuel cell Tre models for testing by the end of the year.
Nikola plans to create 50 jobs and expand the plant by 50,000 square feet to assemble the Bosch fuel-cell stack, air compressor with power electronics and control unit with sensors.The licenses also cover fuel cells for the forthcoming Nikola Two sleeper cab model, scheduled for production in 2024.
The 200-kilowatt (kW) and 300kW fuel-cell power modules are expected to launch in 2023, the same year that Toyota Motor Corp. said on Aug. 25 that it would begin building fuel cell modules for heavy-duty trucks in Kentucky.
The first Nikola application of the Bosch fuel cell will be in the Class 8 regional-haul Nikola Tre. The company anticipates that the overall vehicle design will result in a range of up to approximately 500 miles, according to a Nikola press release Thursday.
Nikola plans to expand use of the Bosch technology for the Class 8 long-haul Nikola Two FCEV with an anticipated range of up to approximately 900 miles.
Anheuser-Busch (NYSE: BUD) committed in 2018 to purchase up to 800 fuel cell trucks from Nikola.
Battery-powered truck builds
Nikola also is building early versions of the battery-electric cabover Tre with plans to deliver a small number to customers before the end of the year. It has a letter of intent with Total Transportation Services Inc. to sell a mix of 100 battery-electric and fuel cell trucks for use in port operations in Southern California.
NFI Industries also plans to try out two battery-electric Tres in its drayage fleet, according to Bill Bliem, senior vice president of fleet services. NFI earlier this week said it would become the first drayage company to have solely electric-powered trucks in use by the end of 2023.