November 19, 2019 2:45 PM, EST

Nikola Announces Battery Technology Available to All

NikolaTrevor Milton via Nikola Motor Co.

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Nikola Corp. announced it has battery technology that would double the range of its heavy-duty trucks that are either fully electric or use a hydrogen fuel cell.

“We anticipate saving nearly $50,000 per truck in batteries with the new technology,” Nikola Motor Co. CEO Trevor Milton told Transport Topics.

Also, Nikola is offering the battery intellectual property (IP), which it acquired from academia, to other truck makers if they contribute to the cost of the IP license and join a proposed consortium.

Asked why it is taking that step, Milton told TT he represents a different generation of business leaders. “The emission issues we face now are too large for any one company to solve,” he said.

“I think my generation thinks differently. We feel a social responsibility to solve complex problems. It is not always about just the money. This will help us get off petrol all together if we work together. If only one company owns it, the investments into petrol will continue as the one company becomes very wealthy. We do not like that philosophy,” he continued.

The Phoenix-based company has entered into a letter of intent to acquire what it termed a world-class battery engineering team to help bring the new battery to pre-production. Through this acquisition, Nikola will add 15 Ph.D.s and five master’s degree team members.

In a tweet after the announcement, Milton wrote: “Who’s the 3rd party top battery expert in the world? Maybe I’ll fly him / her in to personally see the battery tech first hand. He can bring all his gadgets, measuring and cool tools with him :) why not!”

With the new battery technology, Nikola’s battery electric trucks could drive 800 miles fully loaded between charges, Nikola trucks could weigh 5,000 pounds less than the competition if the same battery size was kept, and Nikola’s hydrogen-electric fuel cell trucks could surpass 1,000 miles between stops and top off in 15 minutes, Nikola reported.

The battery also could be scaled for automotive use and medium-duty trucks, plus cellphones, the company said.

Its prototype cell is the first battery that removes binder material and current collectors, enabling more energy storage within the cell. It is also expected to pass nail penetration standards, thus reducing potential vehicle fires, according to the company.

The new battery has a record density of 1,100 watt-hours per kg on the material level and 500 watt-hours per kg on the production cell level.

At the same time, Nikola said its new cell technology is environmentally friendly and easy to recycle. While conventional lithium-ion cells contain elements that are toxic and expensive, the new technology will have a positive impact on the earth’s resources, landfills and recycling plants.

Nikola also announced it is in discussions with customers for truck orders that could fill its production slots for more than 10 years. That would propel Nikola to become the top truck manufacturer in the world in terms of revenue.

Milton explained, “If we sell 50,000 trucks a year, we would top other truck makers in revenue mainly because we control the energy used in each truck as well. This gives us more revenue from each vehicle than a regular truck maker.”

The company stopped taking pre-orders for its hydrogen fuel cell trucks after hitting 14,000.

Nikola has said it will develop the necessary hydrogen fueling infrastructure first along corridors used by key fleets that have placed pre-orders. The company has explained those trucks would be leased on a per mile basis that includes the cost of the truck, fuel and maintenance.

Earlier this year, Nikola President Mark Russell told TT, “All you have to do is provide a driver and insurance, and you have a truck.”

Nikola will provide more details and show the batteries charging and discharging at an upcoming Nikola World event, expected in fall 2020.

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