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Nikola Motor Receives Over 7,000 Preorders Worth Over $2.3 Billion For Its Electric Truck (electrek.co) 144

An anonymous reader writes: Last month, Nikola Motor unveiled the design of its first product -- an electric truck with a natural gas range extender called 'Nikola One.' The 'Nikola One' comes equipped with a massive 320 kWh battery pack that the company hopes can allow it to travel up to 1,200 miles with the natural gas range extender. Today, the company announced it has received over 7,000 pre-orders with deposits for the electric truck since its unveiling. CEO Trevor Milton says the pre-orders are worth over $2.3 billion. Milton said in a press release this morning: "Our technology is 10-15 years ahead of any other OEM in fuel efficiencies, MPG and emissions. We are the only OEM to have a near zero emission truck and still outperform diesel trucks running at 80,000 pounds. To have over 7,000 reservations totaling more than 2.3 billion dollars, with five months remaining until our unveiling ceremony, is unprecedented." Some other features of the truck include: 6x6 100% electric drive, zero idle, many times cleaner than diesel engines, half the fuel cost per mile compared to diesel, 3,700 FT. LBS Torque, 2,000 horsepower, one million miles fuel free, regenerative braking, and never plug-in feature as the turbine charges the batteries automatically while driving. This may sound familiar as the Tesla Model 3 received over 115,000 preorders worth $115 million in just 24 hours after its unveiling.
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Nikola Motor Receives Over 7,000 Preorders Worth Over $2.3 Billion For Its Electric Truck

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  • Its great to see electric cars to be leading, but what about the energy generation? It has to become "green" as well in order for there to be an impact.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      It's a lot easier for a massive power plant to sequester it's CO2, instead of trying to capture the output of every tailpipe.

      Plus, if new tech emerges and we replace fossil fuel plants (entirely or even just partially), that benefit is transferred to every electric car.

      • by TooManyNames ( 711346 ) on Monday June 13, 2016 @06:51PM (#52311385)
        From the article, the plan is to use a natural gas powered turbine as the means of electricity generation; it's designed to never plug-in to the grid to recharge. The economies of scale that might apply to power plant level CO2 sequestration do not apply here.
        • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 13, 2016 @07:17PM (#52311553)

          The way the press release is worded is rather disingenuous. They call the gas turbine a "range extender", when in fact the turbine is the prime mover. If it weren't for the turbine, the truck would have a 100-200 mile range, and a tractor-trailor with that kind of range is basically as useful as tits on a fish.
          What a load of marketing horse-hockey.

          The electrics are used for power transmission, and allowing the turbine to run at a speed conducive to high efficiency, in other words, it's a semi with an turbine-electric hybrid powertrain, and if it works as intended that's AWESOME. However, it is not in any conceivable way, a fuckin electric truck, so why not call it what it is; a fuckin cool hybrid truck. Excuse my trucker-ese.

          • Apparently, the batteries can be "topped off" through a recharging port, but even using a 240V/60A connection (which is probably not what they mean by "topping off"), refilling 256kWh (figuring 80% of battery capacity is actively used to prevent over- and under-charging) is still going to take nearly 18 hours with perfect efficiency, and no trucker wants to be idle that long unless they're doing a reset.

            So yeah, even with that, the turbine isn't really a range extender, but the actual power generator except

            • Tesla superchargers are 120kW max and it looks like the future standard will be 150kW, so refill time for 256kWh could be two hours or less, but that's not going to be available for non-Tesla (last name!) vehicles in the short term.
              • by Hylandr ( 813770 )

                Everyone is focusing on the positive benefits of 'sequestering co2 at the power plant', but is forgetting the cost of making the batteries, disposing of dead batteries, and the harmful effects of a battery on fire, or the extra chemical reaction of putting the fire out, where all the poisonous contaminants will find their way down the to the sewer, and into our rivers and oceans.

          • That is what it is, its designed like a diesel locomotive, only real difference, it runs on roads and not tracks.

          • Seriously. This is the only information I found in the post:

            ...6x6 100% electric drive, zero idle, many times cleaner than diesel engines, half the fuel cost per mile compared to diesel, 3,700 FT. LBS Torque, 2,000 horsepower...

        • The economies of scale that might apply to power plant level CO2 sequestration do not apply here

          from a sequestration standpoint, yes. Although using methane as the energy source instead of diesel cuts down on C02, and virtually eliminates the other nastiness that comes from burning diesel.

      • by amiga3D ( 567632 )

        Greens nice but I believe the big selling point is fuel savings. In the end it's all about the bottom line.

    • by idji ( 984038 )
      Electric energy generation is always more efficient than internal combustion engine. You watch, the supply will quickly come as they see demand ramping.
      Norway said if every car in Norway was electric it would consume 2-3% of their current electricity!
    • Its great to see electric cars to be leading, but what about the energy generation? It has to become "green" as well in order for there to be an impact.

      Why? Obviously it is *better* to do that, but *even* if it were coal based, the ONE coal-based plant could have far better air cleaning capabilities than every single car on the road...

      and as the energy production DOES get more green, all of the cars "magically" become greener too.

    • ...Swiss mountains with abundant hydro-electric dams and a couple of wind turbine sprinkled,
      I smuggly look down on your fuel-burning CO2-vomitting electric plants~~~

      • by Bengie ( 1121981 )
        Hydro-electric dams cause more greenhouse warming than coal (methane caused by stagnate water and anaerobic metabolizing of dead plant materials under water), but there's plenty of other toxins coal emits.
        • Hydro-electric dams cause more greenhouse warming than coal

          Yes [newscientist.com], but No [sciencedaily.com] actually.

          (methane caused by stagnate water and anaerobic metabolizing of dead plant materials under water), but there's plenty of other toxins coal emits.

          Long story short: A hydro dam (specially in alpine regions) has more in common with mountain lakes than with swamps.

          - The water isn't stagnating that much (the whole point of a dam is not to keep the water forever sequestered, but to use its flow to produce electricity. The artificial lake forming is only a *temporary* storage of energy - like a big battery).

          - Water in colder/high altitude region is less likely to encourage proliferation of anaerobic bacteria deep in the water.

          - Both (

    • I don't see to many animals hanging around oil, and living much. But what about Light Duty Trucks? Did Nikola Motor miss a spot?
    • by azav ( 469988 )

      > Its great to see

      It's* great

              it's = it is

      You're old enough to know this.

  • Math Doesn't Add Up (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    A rig hauling 80,000 lbs is going to have a constant power requirement of about 150HP to maintain 65MPH on flat, level ground. No help from aerodynamics or bearing drag. That's over 110kW, or about 3 hours on battery, or 190 miles. That means the remaining 1000 miles of range are going to come from fossil fuels. Hardly impressive.

    2,000 Horsepower is nearly 1.5 MEGAWATTS. 250,000 watts per motor. Even if they were 90% efficient, that's still 25kW of heat to dissipate. So, I imagine the 2000 horsepower is onl

    • The 'Natural Gas Range Extender' reduces their useful load to zero. It's a CNG tanker trailer.

    • by MouseR ( 3264 )

      Read up on regen braking. It does a lot for serial hybrids like this truck and the Chevy Volt.

      • by Verdatum ( 1257828 ) on Monday June 13, 2016 @06:58PM (#52311429)
        Parent is talking about highway driving....65MPH. Regen braking doesn't help you if you don't need to stop. And honestly, not stopping is going to be more efficient than even the most efficient regenerative brakes.
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by MarkRose ( 820682 )

          Ah, but regenerative braking does help you in hilly terrain. Trucks waste a lot of energy countering gravity in mountainous areas. Regenerative braking also doesn't fade or wear out with repeated use, so is cheaper in the long run. Regenerative braking is totally worth it for long-haul trucking.

          • Trucks brakes fail all the time in the mountains, where 'run away lanes' are still common. These regen brakes have better be bulletproof for these trucks to be safe. They sound fairly complicated, but maybe they aren't.
            • Tesla owners will change their brake pads about every 100,000 miles. And even then, it is not a sure thing.
              Regen braking has less chance of failure than does regular brakes. So, on say, I70, when coming down from the tunnel down the mountain, the re-gens will actually add loads of energy back into the pack. In fact, when headed east, a truck like this would be wise to have their pack nearly empty upon exiting the Eisenhower tunnel. By the time an EV gets to the bottom, they will have a mostly recharged p
              • Ok that's cool.. but you can't really compare a Tesla to a loaded truck, two totally different kinds of work. Passenger car brakes for regular ICEs don't normally fail either but it is a very real danger for large trucks. But if you say regens can better handle the abuse without breaking down then I won't disagree.
                • you will note that I spoke about putting motors on the trailers in an earlier posting. Imagine what happens if you do regen from the tractor (which is up-front,but nothing from the rear)? You run the risk of jack-knife particularly in Colorado and other locations (you do 80 MPH down a 8% grade and then tap the brakes and you can watch the trailer go right by you).
            • by Sique ( 173459 )
              Regenerative braking is a very old concept. The first street cars in the late 1800ies already had some kind of "regenerative" braking, they just weren't feeding the gained electricity back into the grid, but instead running it through large resistors on the roof of the car and thus turning them into heat. Every electric engine is at the same time a generator, it just depends on how you switch the power lines. If you short an electric engine, it generates electric energy until it stops running.

              Most problem

              • Regenerative braking is a very old concept. The first street cars in the late 1800ies already had some kind of "regenerative" braking, they just weren't feeding the gained electricity back into the grid, but instead running it through large resistors on the roof of the car and thus turning them into heat.

                Uh, what? Now, look here: it's not regenerative unless you are using it to regenerate the charge in the battery.

                • True, that's called "dynamic braking" on trains. Both are forms of electric motor braking.

                  Modern EVs might benefit from a resistor bank that could be used to give motor braking when the battery is full or increase the motor braking power past what the battery charge system can take.

                • by Pascoea ( 968200 )
                  I was about to be a smart-ass, and disagree with you. My thinking was that TECHNICALLY you are re-generating electricity even if you aren't storing it for future use. But my googling led me to a clarification on the OP, what he's referring to is rheostatic dynamic braking [wikipedia.org] not regenerative dynamic braking. The differentiating being what you do with the power you are generating. On order to be regenerative you have to re-use the power to do work (either immediately, or stored for future use), rheostatic
                • by Sique ( 173459 )
                  That's why I used the quotes. The braking by shorting the electric engine always generates electric energy, and as the momentum of the engine was generated by using electric energy, we now re-generate that energy (minus all the waste). In a literal sense, braking by shorting the engine is regenerative braking. What we do now with the electric energy makes no difference for the actual braking. It's just a good idea to try to either store the energy for later use or feed it back into the grid, rather than was
        • there is a reason why semis have jake breaks. Turns out that semis do a LOT of braking for stops, stop lights, and to deal with the traffic that is running all around them.
    • A rig hauling 80,000 lbs is going to have a constant power requirement of about 150HP to maintain 65MPH on flat, level ground. No help from aerodynamics or bearing drag. That's over 110kW, or about 3 hours on battery, or 190 miles. That means the remaining 1000 miles of range are going to come from fossil fuels. Hardly impressive.

      Apart from the benefits of regenerative braking, a serial hybrid has the advantage of running its engine over a much narrower set of load/speed conditions.

      Much of the ineffici

    • by mspohr ( 589790 )

      The CNG turbine is much more efficient than a diesel. Utilities use a lot of them to generate electricity since they are cheap, powerful and efficient. A gas turbine can be up to 60% efficient compared to about 30% for diesel.
      Electric motors are incredibly powerful for their size and weight. When you consider that a Tesla car has 700 HP (performance version), it's not unreasonable to have four times that in an electric truck.
      These trucks are going to have amazing efficiency and much lower operating costs th

      • 60% is combined cycle with heat recovery steam generators.

        Gas turbine is 40%.

      • A gas turbine can be up to 60% efficient compared to about 30% for diesel.
        No, it can't. It has max efficiency of about 42% - 45%.
        You are mixing up combined cycle gas plants with gas turbines.
        A "combined cycle gas plant" uses the wasted heat that comes out of the turbine to heat a traditional boiler and drive another steam turbine. That is 60% efficient in total.

      • by fnj ( 64210 )

        The CNG turbine is much more efficient than a diesel.

        You are full of bull. Stick to a topic you know something about. Both gas turbines and diesels (non combined cycle) max out at about 45% to an utmost of pushing 50% thermal efficiency.

        • You are full of bull. Stick to a topic you know something about. Both gas turbines and diesels (non combined cycle) max out at about 45% to an utmost of pushing 50% thermal efficiency.

          Diesels have to literally be as big as a house to get that kind of efficiency. It's been said that it's possible to make even microturbines efficient, albeit at a narrow power output range. Not that I've seen it.

      • When you consider that a Tesla car has 700 HP (performance version), it's not unreasonable to have four times that in an electric truck.

        What trucks are you using that have 2800 HP?

        700 HP is more than all but the largest of on highway trucks.

      • by Mashiki ( 184564 )

        When you consider that a Tesla car has 700 HP (performance version), it's not unreasonable to have four times that in an electric truck.

        Trucks don't really care about HP, it's all about torque(aka pulling power). Your average truck is ~250-500HP but 1,700-4,100 lb-ft of torque at 1,200-2,400rpm. Right now that leaves diesel engines in the best pulling power class, especially with the 15-26 gear transmission ratios that exist.

        • by jabuzz ( 182671 )

          Really I would have thought that an electric motor would leave a diesel engine for dead. Actually I don't think I know that electric motors leave any internal combustion engine for dead when it comes to torque, especially at low RPM where you need it more. Show me the diesel engine providing *FULL* torque at 0 RPM. There is a reason that almost all train's now have electric motors for the traction engine.

          • by Mashiki ( 184564 )

            Show me the diesel engine providing *FULL* torque at 0 RPM. There is a reason that almost all train's now have electric motors for the traction engine.

            It's called a super-charger start. And any transmission allows full torque at 0 rpm, there are also a few other options for that stuff.

      • by nojayuk ( 567177 )

        Combined-cycle gas turbines (CCGTs) can reach 60% efficiency but they're more complicated than a simple once-through gas turbine of the sort that's likely to be fitted to a truck like this. CCGT power plants boil water to steam with the turbine exhaust and use a secondary steam turbine to generate more electricity hence the 60% figure but they are bigger, heavier and more complex than any conceivable mobile power plant.

      • by Bengie ( 1121981 )
        A breakthrough in internal combustion engines poses to make Otto cycle gasoline engines 40%-50% efficient in cars. This was recently done by F1 racers and does not require high compression.
    • by epine ( 68316 )

      That means the remaining 1000 miles of range are going to come from fossil fuels.

      We're at least twenty years into this debate, and you still haven't figured out that "where energy comes from" depends on the production mix, not the consumption mix.

      Hardly impressive.

      There's perhaps 20% at stake where the efficiency term on power delivery in which the consumption mix can usefully tilt the landscape (e.g. by enabling fewer wasteful interconversions).

      Plus there are other possible advantages. The 190-mile range

      • Plus there are other possible advantages. The 190-mile range is more than sufficient to shift emissions out of most urban areas.

        Very true. And while there is an awful lot of long distance hauling... There's also an awful lot of "from the nearest [port|railhead|distribution warehouse] across the local region" hauling too. This truck would fit that niche rather nicely.

        A trucker friend of mine used to have a regular route running cars from terminal in Portland to various destinations around the Puget Sound

    • by mbkennel ( 97636 )
      Well, there are liquid hydrocarbon fueled racing cars which are far less than 90% efficient which have significantly more than 2,000 HP. They dissipate energy into hot exhaust and a radiator.

      The truck proposed by the company has a radiator and liquid coolant, and the power is being outputted over 6 wheels, so between 3 to 6 electric motors.

      Given that conventional over the road diesel trucks have about 500 HP, it seems quite unlikely that 2,000 HP would be used for any more than a small fraction of the time
      • To be fair, most race cars with more than 1500HP simply store their waste heat for a very short time (drag & landspeed cars) rather than actually dissipating it. But yes there are many race cars with 800~1500HP that manage to dissipate the heat produced at full power for sustained periods (F1, GRC, and pro drift off the top of my head).

    • A rig hauling 80,000 lbs is going to have a constant power requirement of about 150HP to maintain 65MPH on flat, level ground. No help from aerodynamics or bearing drag.
      That is nonsense.
      If there is no drag: then there is no power requirement at all as soon as the car/truck has reached its speed.
      Learn some physics.

      • "A rig hauling 80,000 lbs is going to have a constant power requirement of about 150HP to maintain 65MPH on flat, level ground. No help from aerodynamics or bearing drag"

        That is nonsense.
        If there is no drag: then there is no power requirement at all as soon as the car/truck has reached its speed.

        He didn't say no drag, he just explicitly removed 2 of the components.
        By my calculations using http://ecomodder.com/forum/too... [ecomodder.com] show 62HP needed for .0045 rolling resistance of 40 tons at 65mph.
        (.0045 is based on

    • by Rei ( 128717 )

      2,000 Horsepower is nearly 1.5 MEGAWATTS. 250,000 watts per motor. Even if they were 90% efficient, that's still 25kW of heat to dissipate. So, I imagine the 2000 horsepower is only available for a very short time, if it's even real.

      I guess if you write it in caps, it just can't be true! ;)

      A truck burning diesel getting 6mpg is burning about 23MJ per mile. At 65mph (just cruising) that's 41kW. Most of which must be dissipated as heat.

      Cruising, not peak.

      Radiating 25kW of heat in a freight truck is a nothin

    • The marketing of this truck as an EV is misleading, but the math makes sense. By your math, which seems correct, 25kW of waste heat is generated by each motor at full power, and that's a very easily manageable amount of heat to dissipate, far less than an average family sedan could produce at full power.

      This is similar to what a 15hp ICE at 33% efficiency would produce - so at full power each motor will be spewing about as much heat as a motor scooter or a go-kart also would at full power. These often have

  • Their preorders are actually $1500 x 7000 = $10.5 million. If all of those translate to sales, then it would be the big $2.3 billion number. To date Tesla has over 373,000 preorders at $1000 apiece = $373 million. Tesla stands to make over $15.6 billion in revenue if all of those sales go through, assuming an average build is about $42,000 after options. I think it's still pretty impressive for Nikola, though, all things considered.
  • The 'Nikola One' comes equipped with a massive 320 kWh battery pack that the company hopes can allow it to travel up to 1,200 miles with the natural gas range extender.

    And my fart-powered motorcycle can travel 400 miles with its gasoline-powered range extender!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 13, 2016 @06:42PM (#52311337)

    The claimed energy costs of /half/ over conventional diesel is huge. When your company does nothing but ship those costs will affect the bottom line pretty much like nothing else.

    It reminds me of the advent of diesel-electric locomotives. They were so much cheaper to run that steam vanished virtually overnight. There were literally stories of steam locomotives rolling off production only to make a single trip directly to the scrap yards. (Said machines were contracted and commissioned years in advance)

    If these trucks really do half the fuel cost, diesel will be gone in less than two years. And anyone who can't replace their fleet will simply be pushed out of business. (Anyone wonder why modern companies live and die based pretty much on their ability to secure credit?)

  • by postmortem ( 906676 ) on Monday June 13, 2016 @07:09PM (#52311507) Journal

    Nikola Tesla didn't have middle name.

    • Actually, his middle name was Danger, but the auto industry hasn't been too keen to adopt it.
  • by bobthesungeek76036 ( 2697689 ) on Monday June 13, 2016 @07:43PM (#52311711)
    Did anybody see this: Nikola Zero [nikolamotor.com] 520HP four-wheeler? Woohoo!!!!
    • Bog standard 4 seat sand buggy with a currently imaginary drivetrain.

      400kg battery will near double the weight of a standard buggy. So expect performance comparable to 300hp IC engine.

      A 4 wheel buggy with a WRX engine is a much better buy, and real today.

  • If you go to the site https://nikolamotor.com/one [nikolamotor.com] you will notice that the reserve price of the truck is only 1,500 USD... so take 7000 pre-orders and you have around 10.5 M USD. Perhaps they are thinking of the total price of the truck? so 2.3 B / 7000 = 329k for the truck.

  • The first is that they need not 1 engine, but multiple smaller engines. By going with smaller engine/gens, they can turn on-off as needed. In addition, it makes it far more durable with the redundancy, but also easy to maintain by taking them out to rebuild/fix.
    The second is that CNG is the wrong fuel. CNG is far too easy to bleed off. Instead, with LNG, it will not bleed off, and this can lower the GHG.
    The third is they really do need the ability to recharge the battery at a station. It is far cheaper
    • The first is that they need not 1 engine, but multiple smaller engines. By going with smaller engine/gens, they can turn on-off as needed. In addition, it makes it far more durable with the redundancy, but also easy to maintain by taking them out to rebuild/fix.

      It also raises the cost, which is why it's not going to happen. Also, a larger engine is more efficient, which is the reason it should not happen. They have the batteries. They can run the engine in its efficient range and put whatever they're not using into those. Thus the system efficiency is higher with one large engine.

      The second is that CNG is the wrong fuel. CNG is far too easy to bleed off. Instead, with LNG, it will not bleed off, and this can lower the GHG.

      It's all crap, because additional natgas will come from fracking.

      • how odd. It raises the price to have multiples made? Somebody better tell SpaceX that they need to change their falcon 9 to look more like Atlas, Delta, and Arianne, so that they can get their prices lower those groups have.
        Actually, a single large engine that is forced to run at various speeds is far more INEFFICIENT. Having say 3 engine/gens run at a set speed, and being able to take them off and on is by far the most efficient that you can get on this. Otherwise, with varying speeds in the engine, your
        • how odd. It raises the price to have multiples made?

          Are you being disingenuous, or are you just dumb? It's more expensive to put two engines into a vehicle than one engine. You do it for packaging reasons, or for reasons of necessary redundancy; both come into effect on boats or ships, for example. It's cheaper to build a V8 than to build two L4s of the same total displacement, oh and by the way, the V8 runs smoother. And oh yes, and also, there's a bunch of stuff that costs about the same amount no matter how big the engine is (like motor mounts) and you're

  • by riverat1 ( 1048260 ) on Tuesday June 14, 2016 @12:27AM (#52312999)

    Unlike most of you I went to the Nikola Motors [nikolamotor.com] website.

    While there is undoubtedly some hype here's what they said.

    There are 2 electric motors on the front axle and it looks like 4 electric motors on the rear axles. The motors have 2 gear automatic transmissions. The truck has what they call torque vectoring which adjusts the wheel speed while turning or maneuvering. There is a 100 gallon CNG tank powering a nearly 400 kw turbine. The turbine if fuel agnostic running on diesel, gasoline or CNG. You can choose your fuel at the time of purchase. They claim the 100 gallon CNG tank is enough for 800 -1,200 miles depending on terrain and load. The turbine will run for 1 hour out of every 3-5 hours of pure electric driving. It of course had regenerative braking but there are also air powered disk brakes on all 6 wheels (of course they'd have to have an air system so they can hook up to the trailer brakes too). They claim the truck will stop in about half the distance of a normal diesel rig.

    For the first 25,000 customers they are offering free fuel for the first million miles. They own the rights to some gas wells and are setting up 55 fueling stations around the country and Canada that are spaced close enough that you can easily make if from one to the next. You can lease the truck for $5,000/month and that includes free fuel, warranty and scheduled maintenance (I doubt tires are included) and at the end of the warranty period (72 months or 1 million miles whichever comes first) you can trade it in on a new one. They also say the Nikola-one is around 2,000 pounds lighter than the equivalent diesel tractor increasing the payload you can carry.

    Lots more information at the website.

    • It's all crap. What we really want are small diesels with hybrid systems. The diesels provide meaningful torque. Putting motors right on the axles is good, though. Per-wheel is the way to go. But if they are determined to use a turbine it should work on either gas or diesel, you shouldn't have to select. If not, that's a massive failure.

      • by Amouth ( 879122 )

        it should work on either gas or diesel, you shouldn't have to select. If not, that's a massive failure.

        While i would tend to agree with you, when it comes to a turbine very few can run multi fuel without changing a compressor stage or two and the ones that can take a heavy efficiency penalty for it. Note this is mainly military service turbines as they have to run no mater what, and a little more cost is never an issue for them.

        Personally i am wondering how they are planning on passing emissions. While yes they are are going to be way low on CO2 compared to IC engines, CNG Turbines typically have high NOX

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