When Nikola first rolled onto the scene a couple years ago it announced plans to produce a long-range hydrogen-powered Class 8 truck. The Phoenix-based start-up is expanding its planned line-up, however, and now plans to off a zero-emission pickup truck, as well.
Nikola would become just the latest to lay out plans for an emissions-free pickup, following the Tesla Cybertruck, GM’s Hummer and other models coming from such sources as Ford, Rivian and Bollinger. But what would be unique about the Nikola Badger is the plan to rely on a blend of two different power sources: a battery pack and a hydrogen fuel cell stack.
“Nikola has billions worth of technology in our semi-truck program, so why not build it into a pickup truck?” said Trevor Milton, CEO, Nikola Corporation, adding his conviction that “the market is now ready for something that can handle a full day’s worth of work without running out of energy.”
Unlike the plug-in hybrids that are becoming increasingly common, both of the power sources for the Nikola Badger will be emissions-free. And each would provide relatively long range on their own, about 300 miles for the 160 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack and roughly the same distance using just hydrogen.
The approach would allow a customer to revert to one or the other, depending upon which energy source – or sources – might be available.
While there are now an estimated 24,000 public battery charging stations around the U.S. there are still wide gaps in the network, especially in mid-America. Hydrogen stations are in even shorter supply, though Nikola Corp. officials have announced plans to eventually set up 700 pumping stations across North America.
The Badger’s fuel cell stack will provide energy to run the same electric motors as the lithium-ion battery pack, the drivetrain producing a peak of “over” 906 horsepower and a continuous 455 hp. Torque will come in at 980 pound-feet. The company claims the pickup will be able to launch from 0 to 60 in just 2.9 seconds – about the same target for the most high-performance versions of the Tesla Cybertruck and GMC Hummer.
Nikola is offering only select details about Badger, but it does note, “The electric pickup is designed to handle what a construction company could throw at it and is engineered to outperform all electric pickup trucks on the market in both continuous towing, HP and range. The Badger will be outfitted with a 15-kilowatt power outlet for tools, lights and compressors, which is enough power to assist a construction site for approximately 12 hours without a generator.”
A Nikola news release leaves open a number of questions, starting with who will actually produce the Nikola Badger, and where. The project is part of a joint venture with Heavy D, a reality TV star from the Discovery Channel’s “Diesel Brothers.” According to the partners, the Badger will be produced by an existing automaker, though they are declining to reveal which one.
What Nikola did confirm is that the pickup will fall into the midsize category, measuring about 232 inches in length, 72.2 inches in height and 85 inches in width.
A company official said other details, such as pricing and the planned launch date will be announced later this year at Nikola World, the company’s annual conference.
Nikola currently plans to market a series of Class 8 semis offering both hydrogen fuel-cell and battery powertrain options. In December, the company also announced what it claims will be a major breakthrough in battery technology capable of doubling range while halving the price of current lithium-ion cells. It is expected to reveal more about that technology at Nikola World, as well.