The electric vehicle startup that is still trying to clear its founder of fraud, Nikola, has entered into a strategic alliance with Bosch, an industrial powerhouse, for fuel cells modules for its hydrogen-powered trucks. It also includes the production of the energy devices in its new Arizona facility.
According to the Phoenix-based company, it plans to begin battery-powered Tre semis deliveries by late this year. It also stated that Bosch fuel cells would be installed in its Tre trucks and Nikola Two trucks from 2023. The devices, which are created by a chemical reaction between oxygen and hydrogen, generate electricity. It will be manufactured in a new addition of 50,000 square feet to Nikola’s Coolidge Arizona plant. The company plans to extend its headquarters to add fuel cell R&D, testing, and development facilities.
Mark Russell, a Nikola CEO, said that the Bosch deal is “the best of both sides in our make versus purchase’ analysis.” Bosch is our partner in developing and assembling fuel-cell power modules. We will use significant components from the Bosch global network to produce our Nikola vehicles.
Nikola didn’t give any details about the cost of the expansion or whether Bosch (its long-term tech partner) is funding it.
Nikola’s plans for commercialization were hampered by fraud allegations against Trevor Milton (39) last year. The fuel cell plan gives some stability. He step down as executive chairman in September 2020 after a report by a short-seller accused him of lying about Nikola’s technology. This led to investigations by the Securities and Exchange Commission and U.S. Justice Department. In late July, the DOJ indicted Milton for making false statements about Nikola in public appearances and social media that misled investors about its technology. No charges have been brought against the organisation nor any other Nikola executives. Milton has denied any wrongdoing.
An electric Tre truck powered by the battery will be on display at Advanced Clean Truck Expo, Long Beach, California, on August 31.
Nikola, despite this setback, is still trying to adhere to production plans. These include deliveries of battery-powered Tres manufactured with European truckmaker Iveco and a range of 300 miles per charge this coming year. In addition to longer-range hydrogen trucks built in Arizona beginning 2023, Nikola also plans to continue with production. The company expects its Nikola Two truck to travel up to 900 miles each fueling. Nikola also announced two different plans this year to source hydrogen. It will use surplus electricity from Arizona and industrial waste from Indiana.
Nikola’s plans for fuel cell production follow a similar announcement made by Toyota. In 2023, Toyota will do the power modules in its Georgetown, Kentucky plant.
Together with Nikola and Toyota, Hyundai Motor, Volvo and Daimler, Cummins, and General Motors are working on long-haul hydrogen trucks. According to the companies, the technology is more suitable for heavy-duty vehicles driving hundreds of miles per day than large batteries required for Tesla’s long-overdue Electric Semi. The fuel cell powertrain, which is lighter and can also be refueled faster, is superior.
Nikola shares rose 2 percent to $11 in Nasdaq, trading at 10:27 am EDT on Thursday.