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Nikola signs multiyear deal for Proterra battery technology

Proterra Powered unit will make packs for battery-electric and fuel cell trucks

Nikola Corp. signed a long-term battery supply agreement with Proterra Inc. that will assure supply of batteries to the electric truck maker. (Photo: Nikola)

Nikola Corp. has signed a multiyear deal with battery maker Proterra Inc. to use Proterra battery packs in its electric trucks. It is the first Class 8 truck maker to align with Proterra Powered, a newer business unit of the company best known for electric transit buses.

The deal creates supply certainty for Nikiola, which has signed several letters of intent with major carriers that will try and potentially buy hundreds of Nikola Tre battery-electric and fuel cell trucks in the next few years. 

Neither Nikola (NASDAQ: NKLA) nor Proterra (NASDAQ: PRTA) would disclose the length of the agreement announced Tuesday. Proterra signed a long-term deal last August with LG Energy Solution Electric for the U.S.-sourced battery cells for its packs that runs through 2028.

“With the growing demand for the Nikola Tre BEV and FCEV, we have actively pursued battery supply through a dual source strategy,” said Nikola CEO Mark Russell. The first Proterra Powered products are expected to be incorporated in the Tre battery-electric truck (BET) in Q4 this year with prototype delivery systems delivered in Q2.

“Class 8 trucks play a vital role in the U.S. and global economy but today are some of the worst polluters.”

Gareth Joyce, CEO, Proterra Inc.

Dual source strategy

Nikola will continue working with Romeo Power Technology (NYSE: RMO) under a battery pack supply agreement signed in August 2020, but it did not provide further details. Romeo, which recently ended a joint venture with BorgWarner Inc., listed BorgWarner (NYSE: BWA) as working with Romeo on batteries for Nikola.

“Class 8 trucks play a vital role in the U.S. and global economy but today are some of transportation’s worst polluters,” Proterra CEO Gareth Joyce said in a press release. “Decarbonizing the trucking industry is core to Proterra’s mission and we are excited to join Nikola on this journey to help drive heavy-duty trucking to zero emissions.”

The Nikola deal represents the first application for Proterra Powered in the Class 8 heavy-duty truck market. Proterra last week announced a long-term deal to supply batteries for Vicinity Motor Corp. (NASDAQ:VEV), a North American supplier of 28-foot electric transit buses and Class 3 and 5 electric work trucks.

“Battery technology can and will support many vehicle applications today and in the future,” a Proterra spokesman told FreightWaves. “Battery technology — today — can satisfy a very large and important part of the Class 8 market, particularly for fleet vehicles and trucks which operate less than 300 miles per day.”

Proterra Powered battery packs will begin prototype testing in Nikola electric trucks in Q2. (Photo: Proterra)

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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.