Nikola Motor Co. announced it would begin production within five years in Europe of a heavy-duty, hydrogen-electric truck designed to be compatible with full autonomy as it expands its business beyond North America.
The Phoenix-based company has begun taking reservations for the vehicle — to be called the Tre, which is Norwegian for three. Tre is slated for production in 2022 to 2023. Nikola will preview the truck April 16-17 in Phoenix alongside its Nikola Two model, which is scheduled for fleet tests in 2019.
Tre will be the first European zero-emissions commercial truck to be delivered with redundant braking, redundant steering, redundant 800V DC batteries and a redundant 120 kilowatt hydrogen fuel cell — “all necessary for true Level 5 autonomy,” Nikola founder and CEO Trevor Milton said in a statement.
“Redundant means the truck has been designed from the ground up to allow for failure in any one of the systems and still operate safely,” Milton told Transport Topics. “This is especially important with autonomy compatibility.”
Level 5 typically is defined as full automation capable of handling any road with no driver needed — or as Milton said, “No driver. Completely autonomous-compatible.”
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He added: “For instance, the power steering could go out, and the truck would be able to pull itself over, steer itself to the side of the road and safely exit the freeway. It is the only truck ever built that we know of that has the ability to have any one of the main systems or subsystems fail and still continue safely until it can pull over and be serviced,” he said.
Model Two will feature the same level of redundancy, according to the company.
The Tre will come with 500 to 1,000 horsepower, 6×4 or 6×2 configurations and a range of 500 to 1,200 kilometers (310 to 745 miles) depending on options. The Tre will fit within the current size and length restrictions for Europe.
European testing is projected to begin in Norway around 2020. Nikola also is in the preliminary planning stages to identify the proper location for its European manufacturing facility, according to the company.
Nikola is working with Oslo, Norway-based Nel Hydrogen to provide hydrogen stations in the United States.
“We will work with Nel to secure resources for our European growth strategy. We have a lot of work ahead of us, but with the right partners, we can accomplish it,” Nikola Chief Financial Officer Kim Brady said.
By 2028, Nikola plans to have more than 700 hydrogen stations across the United States and Canada. Each station is capable of 2,000 to 8,000 kilograms of daily hydrogen production. Nikola’s European stations are planned to come online around 2022 and projected to cover most of the European market by 2030.
A rear view of Tre. (Nikola Motor Co.)
Meanwhile, at the Nikola World event in Phoenix, attendees will witness the Nikola Two model pulling loaded trailers, along with a prototype display of the Nikola Tre. Hydrogen filling also will be shown at the event at 700 bar or 10,000 pounds per square inch.
Nikola’s power sports division will provide customer rides throughout the day and show off pre-production units of the Nikola NZT off-road 4×4.