Commercial Vehicles

Nikola & Iveco start testing e-trucks in the Port of Hamburg


In Germany, in the Port of Hamburg, a demonstration phase has begun with the first three Nikola BEV tractor units in Europe. In the second phase of the project, the full integration of the BEV vehicles into port operations and the installation of the charging infrastructure will take place in 2023.

Nikola’s presence in Europe was cemented in a collaboration agreement in early 2020, when Iveco and US hydrogen fuel cell and battery electric truck start-up Nikola announced the production of pure battery electric trucks at the Iveco plant in Ulm. The production facility was officially unveiled in mid-September 2021, and small series production of the Nikola Tre is now underway in Ulm. For the electric truck model, Nikola supplies, among other things, the electric drive system, while Iveco provides the well-established S-Way platform and driver’s cab. The Nikola-developed drives, control systems and infotainment system are all integrated into this chassis. The vehicles are assembled at the plant of Iveco’s parent company CNH Industrial.

On the occasion of the opening of the joint production plant in Ulm in September 2021, Iveco and Nikola signed a memorandum of understanding with the Hamburg Port Authority (HPA) that laid the ground for the current test phase of electric trucks.  The HPA governs the two-phase test run and the delivery of a total of up to 25 Nikola Tre BEV tractor units to hauliers in the Port of Hamburg.

In the course of the demo phase now underway with the first three Nikola BEV tractor units in Europe, the testing of different charging options is on the agenda. The partners want to extend this test phase at the port to three months before the European 4×2 variant of the Nikola Tre BEV is to be tested in the second phase in 2023. The model variant will celebrate its premiere next week at the IAA Transportation. At the port, the vehicles will be “fully integrated into port operations” during the second trial phase. In addition, the installation of the charging infrastructure and related services will be tackled with the involvement of key suppliers.

“The first phase serves the purposes of demonstrating zero-emission container transport in the port of Hamburg on public roads, acquiring the first customers, and testing the charging infrastructure and processes, as well as generating further project content and ideas for the rest of the project,” explains Christian Sulser, board member for sales & marketing at Iveco Magirus AG. “At the start of the project, we are using mobile chargers, but we are also already examining suitable locations for a fast-charging infrastructure.”

Jens Meier, Chairman of the Executive Board of the Hamburg Port Authority pointed out that “Ports play a crucial role in decarbonisation and air pollution control. That’s why it’s important for us to do everything we can to make our contribution and to take a pioneering and exemplary role.”

The Tre is a tractor unit that has two 480 kW electric motors flanged to the drive axle. The maximum wheel torque is 38,000 Nm. “Strong partners like the Port of Hamburg are further proof that the Nikola Tre BEV is the right truck for companies that want to do more than just talking about climate change,” says Michael Lohscheller, President of Nikola Corporation since August. “These demo vehicles are proof that companies can really make a difference to the planet by using zero-emission vehicles in their fleets.”

In the meantime, Nikola started series production in its home territory, the USA, in March: Nikola reported that 50 US examples of the Tre were built in the second quarter of this year, 48 of which were delivered to dealers. Production in the USA is to be increased significantly by the end of this year. The start of series production in Ulm for the European market is planned for June 2023.

Ports are an obvious choice for logistics operations for testing heavy-duty zero-emission vehicles, and here Nikola has been busy with another of the world’s busiest ports: At the end of last year, the first Nikola trucks arrived in Port of Los Angeles. For their fuel cell trucks, Nikola is also working on hydrogen infrastructure in both North America and Europe that includes a hydrogen corridor across Europe initiated by the Port of Rotterdam Authority and AirLiquide.

Including reporting by Cora Werwitzke


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