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Trickle charge: Electric truck orders continue to build albeit slowly

Nikola and Volvo Trucks add new orders to still nascent demand

Nikola Corp. received a letter of intent from Heniff Transportation Systems to purchase up to 100 battery-electric Class 8 Tre cabovers. (Photo: Nikola)

Nikola Corp. and Volvo Truck announced new orders for electric trucks on Wednesday, adding momentum for the still nascent move to zero tailpipe emissions.

The provisional orders at Nikola (NASDAQ: NKLA) include 10 battery-electric Tre models that will be leased by Heniff Transportation Systems through Thompson Truck Centers, a member of Nikola’s sales and service dealer network. If Heniff likes the performance of the trucks, it could boost the order by as many as 90 trucks.

Separately, Volvo Trucks (OTC: VLVLY) received an order for an additional 25 heavy electric trucks from DFDS, Northern Europe’s largest shipping and logistics company. The new orders add to an earlier order of 100 Volvo FM electric trucks in October.

The agreement between Heniff Transportation and Thompson Truck Centers is a fleet-as-a-service model under which Thompson will provide the sales, service, maintenance and energy infrastructure required to operate the Nikola trucks.

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Thompson Truck Centers services and repairs all makes and models of medium- and heavy-duty trucks with a focus on helping customers transition to zero-emission vehicles.

Deliveries in 1H 2022

Deliveries are expected to begin in the first half of 2022. Nikola expects to begin regular production of the Tre at a new greenfield plant in Coolidge, Arizona, in Q1. It delivered two preproduction trucks to Total Transportation Services Inc. in Southern California last week. TTSI intends to purchase a mix of 100 battery electric and fuel cell trucks from Nikola.

Heniff, a family of companies operating liquid bulk transportation, rail transloading, International Standards Organization depot operations, tank cleaning and related maintenance, has 100 locations and more than 2,000 tractors in its fleet.

“We see this partnership with Nikola and Thompson as a means to accelerate our strategy for electrification of our fleet and as a positive benefit for our customers, communities, employees and stakeholders,” Bob Heniff, CEO of Heniff Transportation, said in a press release.

While the growth in electric truck orders is deliberate, it is accelerating because of coming California regulations that will require 9% of new trucks in the state to have zero tailpipe emissions in 2024.

“With the rapid regulatory changes around electric vehicles, it is important for Thompson to deliver innovative products to our customers that will meet the new standards of zero emissions for transportation.”

Mark McDonell, COO of Thompson Machinery

“With the rapid regulatory changes around electric vehicles, it is important for Thompson to deliver innovative products to our customers that will meet the new standards of zero emissions for transportation,” said Mark McDonell, COO of Thompson Machinery. 

Orders for Class 8 electric trucks across all manufacturers still count in the hundreds. Most orders are relatively small, intended to gain experience with electric power. The largest orders to date, such as a 50-truck order by Schneider National of Freightliner eCascadias, are subsidized by government agencies seeking to accelerate adoption.

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Click for more FreightWaves articles by Alan Adler.

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.