Commercial Vehicles

Nikola Motor founds hydrogen energy brand HYLA


HYLA is Nikola Motor’s new brand for the company’s energy products and is charged with producing, distributing and dispensing hydrogen to fuel its zero-emissions trucks. Five sites in the US have been designated to develop access to up to 300 metric tons per day of hydrogen.

It has long been Nikola’s strategy to bring its hydrogen infrastructure solutions to the market to complement its electric trucks, preferably with fuel cells but also available with batteries. Now the business has its own name, HYLA.

Nikola announced as much in front of around 300 representatives of fleets, authorities, suppliers, energy providers and media at an event at its headquarters in Phoenix, Arizona.

HYLA targets developing access to up to 300 metric tons per day (TPD) of hydrogen at five projects Nikola is running with partners. So far, these are exclusively in the USA.

The ‘Phoenix Hydrogen Hub’ (PHH) in the City of Buckeye, not far from the Nikola HQ in Arizona, is to be the most prominent site, with a final capacity of up to 150 metric tonnes per day. The PHH is to be built “in phases to scale with the demand created from Nikola’s zero-emission trucks in the Southwest region,” writes Nikola. The first 30-tonne phase is expected to be completed in the second half of 2024. However, the final investment decision is still subject to regulatory approvals, Nikola said.

For the remaining four sites, Nikola has yet to deliver more details. Locations include Terre Haute, a city in Indiana with Wabash Valley Resources (50 metric-TPD), Clinton County in Pennsylvania (100 metric-TPD), and Crossfield, Alberta, CA, with TC Energy (60 metric-TPD). Plug Power will be responsible for delivering up to 125 metric-TPD according to a “multi-region offtake agreement,” so Nikola.

The hydrogen produced at the five sites will be sold at 60 HYLA filling stations by 2026. The first hubs are to be built in California, specifically in the city of Ontario and in Colton. Both towns are located in the Los Angeles/San Bernardino metropolitan area. HYLA shall also run another station near the port of Long Beach. The three locations should result in a good supply around the important container harbour and industrial zone there.

In addition, HYLA has also unveiled a mobile refuelling facility. Especially in the early years (with even lower penetration of FCEV trucks), it is intended to be an “integral part of Nikola’s flexible customer service” by supplying H2 where needed. The mobile refuelling system cools and compresses hydrogen to quickly refuel FCEV heavy-duty trucks at 700 bar – instead of the 350 bar used in Europe for commercial vehicles. In combination with the H2 tank on another trailer with a capacity of 960 kilograms, several customer trucks will be able to be refuelled “back to back”.

“Nikola is the only company that is successfully integrating a revolutionary new product, the hydrogen fuel cell truck, and the full hydrogen energy infrastructure supply chain under one roof,” said Nikola CEO and President Michael Lohscheller. “The unveiling of our Nikola Tre fuel cell truck and flexible mobile fueling trailer demonstrates a real and sustainable competitive advantage for our customers and are significant proof points that we are accomplishing what we set out to achieve.”

“The HYLA brand represents Nikola’s hydrogen-focused energy business by supporting our fuel cell electric vehicles and those of other OEMs,” said Carey Mendes, President of Nikola Energy. “Hydrogen energy is the catalyst for the HYLA brand and serves as a forward-looking solution for our customers to help them achieve their sustainability goals and dramatically reduce the overall carbon emissions in the transportation sector.”

Nikola does not currently specify whether HYLA will also come to Europe. While hailed as a global brand, all announced projects relate to the US. In Europe, the company is reportedly working with E.ON on an ecosystem for H2 trucks. By 2027, E.On Hydrogen expects it could supply “green” hydrogen to up to 5,000 Nikola Tre FCEV with a range of up to 800 km.

Nikola also announces that Biagi Bros. plans to put 15 of its Nikola Tre FCEV hydrogen heavy-duty trucks into service in Ontario, California, in the fourth quarter of this year. The logistics company has tested the fuel cell truck successfully since January 2022. Andrea Biagi, President of Biagi Bros, said, “After logging more than 12,000 miles, we are extremely pleased with the performance and specification of the trucks, and we are ready to move forward to officially build our zero-emission fleet later this year.”

Still, Nikola has yet to deliver beyond showcases. The 2022 business figures saw them off production targets in the BEV segment and only a few beta-versions of FCEV out on the roads in the US. In Europe, however, Nikola has teamed up with Iveco for production and managed to show a Nikola Tre fuel cell truck prototype last year. Deliveries are set to start rolling in 2024. (HYLA), (Biagi order)


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