In a quarterly earnings call Wednesday afternoon, Tesla CEO Elon Musk spoke briefly about a new lawsuit filed by Nikola Motor Company, a Salt Lake City-based gasoline-powered car startup. Musk said it was “a ridiculous lawsuit from a company called ‘Nikola’.”
Whatever the merits of the lawsuit itself, major shipping companies like US Xpress and Ryder consider Nikola Motor Company to be more than “just companies”. Now, it seems that Anheuser-Busch, one of the largest beer producers in the US and a subsidiary of the multinational corporation AB InBev, is getting on the Nikola train, too. On Thursday, Anheuser-Busch announced that it will buy 800 hydrogen fuel cell trucks from the Nikola Motor company for delivery between 2020 and 2025.
Like Tesla, Nikola has yet to deliver a zero-tailpipe-emitting truck to a customer. Unlike Tesla, the company has never delivered a mass-produced car to the customer.
But the promise of quick refueling and nearly 1,200 miles of range on a stack of hydrogen-powered lithium batteries has freight companies willing to bet on the technology. In a lawsuit filed this week against Tesla, Nikola said it has received pre-orders for 7,000 trucks. It’s hard to say whether that number is inflated, though. Nicholas Accepts reservations with no down paymentWhile the news suggests that Tesla needs potential buyers to be at least $20,000 serious about buying a Tesla Semi.
However, Nikola is confident enough in demand for his trucks that he is currently building a $1 billion manufacturing facility in Arizona outside of Phoenix and plans to move the company’s headquarters to Phoenix later this year.
The Anheuser-Busch deal appears to be more important than a cash-down reservation, although the details of the deal are not public. According to Nikola spokeswoman Colleen Robar, Nikola will build 28 gas stations in most of Anheuser-Busch’s routes as part of the agreements. Robar declined to specify what those routes were. An Anheuser-Busch media contact did not respond to a request for comment.
Them Los Angeles Times news that Anheuser-Busch has also put aside money for 40 Tesla Semis Electric Semis as part of its goal to convert its entire fleet to renewable energy sources by 2025.
Skepticism of Nikola Motor Company is not completely unwarranted. It has just begun the construction of two hydrogen fuel stations, and other companies like Toyota have been banking on the success of fuel cell vehicles for a long time without being able to create a large market. Hydrogen is expensive to transport, so gas stations cannot copy gas station business models with deliveries of hydrogen at regular intervals.
Instead, Nikola hopes to make his own hydrogen at gas stations with the help of a Norwegian company called Nel Hydrogen. Nel provides the engine for gas stations, which any hydrogen-based vehicles will be able to use. For Nikola trucks, fuel will be included in the price of the truck.
Nikola said the Nel Hydrogen system will irradiate water to produce hydrogen, rather than using natural gas reformer, for example. Robar told Ars via email that there are no concerns about other critical components that could add cost or resource issues … Only PEM (proton exchange membrane) fuel cells and electricity.”
According to the company, it takes 55kWh to make one kilogram of hydrogen, and each car “is expected to consume around 50-75kgs per day.” That suggests that at the high end, it would require more than 4MWh of renewable energy to refuel a Nikola car. The good thing is, once it’s made, the hydrogen fuel can be stored.
Obstacles aside, if Nikola succeeds it will be another step forward in reducing greenhouse gases from one of the most polluting yet important areas of the American economy. “Once fully implemented, the carbon reductions obtained from these 800 trucks will reduce the producer’s carbon emissions from logistics by more than 18 percent – equivalent to moving more than 13 thousand trains annually,” Anheuser-Busch wrote in its press release. .