Nikola has delivered the first units of its Nikola Tre battery-electric truck in the USA. The vehicles went to logistics provider Total Transportation Services (TSSI), which serves the California Port of Los Angeles and Long Beach.
TSSI had signed a memorandum of understanding with Nikola in May to deliver a total of 100 BEV and FCEV trucks as reported. The port trucking company wants to initiate a pilot project with two BEV and two FCEV trucks running through the first half of 2022. If test operations meet TSSI’s requirements and the company obtains government funding, an order for 30 BEV trucks could follow later in the year and 70 FCEV trucks in 2023.
“Nikola committed to making its first Tre BEV deliveries in Q4 2021, and it is a big honour to celebrate this milestone with our partner, TTSI,” said Nikola CEO Mark Russell when handing over the trucks.
Vic LaRosa, President of TTSI, added, the company “highly values its partnership with Nikola. Production, performance, and maintenance will be the key to our future success, and we are confident Nikola will excel on all three fronts.”
This, however, remains to be seen. Nikola Motors has repeatedly run into problems, most prominently culminating in founder and CEO Trevor Milton having to resign last summer following attacks by short-sellers, while the New York State Attorney General’s Office has indicted Milton.
As a result, Nikola had to realign itself under new CEO Mark Russell. In February 2021, the target for the current year was reduced from 600 to 100 vehicles for customer testing. In August, Nikola revised this target downwards again, to 25 to 50 vehicles – due to “numerous” delays related to part procurement.
What was more, a General Motors investment for a new pick-up truck never materialised and neither did a cooperation agreement for fuel cells. According to the latest information, Nikola purchases fuel cells from Bosch, despite the German supplier having reduced its shares in December 2020 after a holding period expired.
The above issues at home mean essentially Nikola production lies with Europe for the time being. Partner Iveco has reportedly successfully geared up production for the BEV truck in Ulm, Germany. The US start-up supplies the electric drive train here, while Iveco adds the well-known S-Way platform, including the driver’s cab.
So while not explicitly stated today, it is likely the electric trucks now being tested in California have been reimported from Europe.
Still, should the Californian trial be successful, there is enormous market potential for Nikola. According to TTSI, 13,000 to 14,000 trucks call at the Port of Los Angeles/Long Beach in any given month, emitting roughly 2,600 tons per year of nitrogen-oxide emissions.
Over in Europe, Nikola’s pilot customer is to be the Port of Hamburg that expects to try up to 25 BEV trucks next year, as reported.
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