Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced earlier that the automaker will venture into the semi business, but now in a clearly reactionary move, electric truck startup Nikola Motor announced that it will release a working prototype of its first truck, the Nikola One, in Salt Lake City on December 2, reports Electrek.
Taking a swipe at Tesla Semi
Like Tesla, Nikola Motor also borrowed its name from Nikola Tesla, and it is quite suspicious that it is releasing its first truck just after Musk announced their venture into semis. Earlier this year, Nikola unveiled renderings and estimated specs of the Nikola One. The automaker claimed it has received more than 7,000 preorders for the electric truck worth more than $2.3 billion.
The Nikola One is an electric semi equipped with a natural gas range extender and a 320 kWh battery pack. In a press release announcing the date of its working prototype release Nikola Motor Chief Executive Officer Trevor Milton referenced a “recently announced battery-powered semi-truck” but did not mention the name of the automaker. However, it has to be either Daimler or Tesla, as they both recently announced plans for electric trucks.
Even though Tesla has not unveiled anything yet, Milton criticized the concept for being restricted to a range of only a couple hundred miles and four to eight hours of charging between stops. He also compared those concepts with its own “holy grail of trucking industry” with “more than 1,000 miles” of range with “only 15 minutes of downtime.”
A growing market
Strangely, the CEO made no mention of the natural gas range extender in the press release and claimed that the electric semi truck will achieve “zero emissions,” according to Electrek. It is not clear how they came to that conclusion, but the Energy Information Administration (EIA) states that for each Btu of burned natural gas, 117 pounds of CO2 are produced. It is inevitable that emissions come from burning natural gas even though the levels are better than gasoline, the report notes.
The mention of the Tesla semi was a surprise in Musk’s recent “Master Plan Part Deux.” The rest of the master plan, including autonomous driving, solar and ride-sharing, was not exactly unpredictable. It must be noted that Tesla is not the sole company to go after this market; there is BYD, Proterra, and Wrightspeed which are already building heavy duty urban electric vehicles. Wrightspeed CEO Ian Wright believes electrifying the heavy duty vehicle sector makes economic sense.