Start-up Nikola bet that hydrogen will eventually break through with large facilities




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Nikola hydrogen truck

The Nikola semi-trailers with hydrogen, generating no pollution, could cross the United States in a few years if the bet of 1.5 billion dollars of the company bears fruit. Nikola Motor

Hydrogen has been a promising but elusive vehicle fuel for half a century, fueling a range of fuel cell cars and SUVs, but never completely solving the cost and efficiency issues and the lack of service stations that make it less attractive than zero-emission vehicle batteries. The problem is not technology, says the founder of the Arizona startup Nikola Motorbut these big trucks are a much better choice for hydrogen.

The 4-year-old manufacturer of hydrogen semitrailers claims a vision as brazen as the one unveiled 13 years ago by the founders of Tesla with its expensive 100% electric cars: Nikola will act as a catalyst to bring the world to market. hydrogen to the general public. Thousands of large hydrogen engines and a network of hydrogen stations from one ocean to another to power them. He also wants car manufacturers to like Toyota, General Motors, Honda, Hyundai and Daimler to use these stations to expand sales of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles beyond California.

It will not be cheap: Nikola is asking for $ 1.25 billion to fund it, in addition to the $ 300 million raised so far, said CEO Trevor Milton Forbes. He will be attending a conference this week on hydrogen technology in Scottsdale, Arizona, bringing together suppliers, partners, potential investors, future customers and automakers to inspire enthusiasm and win strong allies. & nbsp;

NikolaMilton

Nikola CEO Trevor Milton at the unveiling of the company's Nikola One truck.Nikola Motor

"You can not do this alone. Toyota and others can not do it alone and neither can we, "he said. "What Nikola brings is that we are providing the entire network, we are building 700 hydrogen stations across America. It will be the largest in the world.

Milton pushes trucks because it is easier to pack large tanks that contain compressed hydrogen than cars, the costs of technology are easier to recover than cars and that the refueling time and autonomy are comparable to those of diesel trucks. It will compete with several companies preparing battery trucks, including Tesla – which has signed with Pepsi, Anheuser Busch, FedEx, Walmart as customers – as well as Daimler, BYD and startup. Thor. But he sees a big advantage for Nikola's hydrogen fuel cell system for long-haul journeys on a highway of 500 km or more: it's much lighter than the Elon Musk's battery-powered Tesla Semi.

"Hydrogen works much better on heavy trucks, and we're 5,000 pounds lighter than Tesla," he said. Look at Anheuser Busch. They ordered 40 or 50 trucks from them and 800 from us. In fact, he says Nikola has leased $ 14 billion worth of leases from major shippers, including Anheuser Busch and US Express, each with a seven-year lease. $ 1 million.

"We are out of stock for eight years of production," said Milton, who worked for Worthington Industries, a steel and metals processing plant, and sold low-emission fuel systems for vehicles. heavy utilities at the German engineering company DHybrid before founding Nikola.

But none of these orders turns into sales until Nikola completes its fundraising campaign and goes into production, its goal being the end of the 2022s. Its refueling network, including autonomous stations distributing hydrogen extracted from water, uses electricity generated by wind, solar and other renewable sources. will take a lot of the 2020s to put in place. The next three years will be difficult and will require uninterrupted expenses from unproven start-up. But its success would benefit companies that have been buying hydrogen for years, increasing the chances of getting industry support that Milton is looking for.

Nikola card substation

Nikola plans to build 700 service stations in the United States over the next decade, producing zero-emission hydrogen from water using electricity from renewable sources.Nikola Motor

Sales of electric cars are increasing worldwide with the rising cost of batteries and components, with Tesla in the lead, and more and more trucks and electric buses are finding their way into the streets of the country. big cities and ports. But the physics of long-range semi-trailers, carrying up to 80,000 pounds (cab and trailer), means the winning technology is still not winning.

"If you want to electrify heavy trucks, a class 8 truck requires seven tons or 700 kilowatt hours of battery, which makes four to five packages to be stored in the truck. In comparison, you get the same range of a few hundred kilograms of hydrogen, "said Bernd Heid, senior partner at McKinsey & amp; Company that studies the trends and technology of the trucking industry.

Likewise, batteries require a lot more recharge time than hydrogen or conventional diesel fuel. With diesel, every minute of fuel provides a range of 20 miles for a big truck, while with hydrogen, a minute of fuel provides a range of 12 miles, calculates Heid. For a battery-powered truck, every minute of charging only provides 3 miles, he said. So for a truck to travel 500 miles, it takes about 25 minutes for a diesel, 42 minutes for hydrogen and potentially more than two and a half hours for a battery truck. (Musk said Tesla would have a network of "Megachargers" that offer a range of 400 km in 30 minutes for its semi futuristic, with its batteries connected to individual chargers to charge them simultaneously.)

"Trucking is a business that works ideally around the clock," said Heid. "Every minute or hour you do not rest, it pays nothing. The time of charging or charging is a huge impact on the business. "

Fuel cell and battery powered vehicles are both electric, sharing the same engines and many other components. The essential difference is that batteries store electricity and that fuel cells produce it on board as needed, according to an electrochemical process that extracts electrons from forced hydrogen through fuel cell membranes. . Apart from electricity, the only byproduct is water vapor rather than the harmful exhaust gases of diesel. Beyond cars and trucks, they have been used by NASA for decades, they work as stationary electricity generators and are under development for powertrains and even ships and ferries.

For battery cars, it is relatively simple to create a public charging infrastructure that allows drivers to start when they are parked, but even a quick charge can take 30 minutes or more. Fuel cell cars can be refueled at about the same time as those running on gasoline, although the number of public stations distributing compressed hydrogen in California, which contains more, is just 37 currently grouped in the Bay Area, Los Angeles and Orange County and up to San Diego. Dozens more are planned, but like the vast network of supercharges that Musk has built for Tesla owners, the goal of the 700 Nikola resorts would change the game for travel across the country.

"If the expansion of hydrogen infrastructure in the United States is suddenly annoying, that's a big problem," said Craig Scott, national director of Toyota's leading-edge US technology group. "It would be a very good thing to have more open hydrogen stations – more, that's more."

Toyota has been selling Mirai hydrogen-powered sedans in California and Japan in recent years and operates two fuel cell trucks in the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, with more details to come. It even builds a hydrogen plant in ports, producing fuel from waste, to power its fleet.

Nikola Tre

The Nikola Tre will be offered with a choice of hydrogen system or batteries for shorter trips. Nikola Motor

Milton will develop this week a strategy that will take a good part of the decade to materialize. This includes the preparation of a 500-acre site for its plant located outside of Phoenix, with housing projects beginning early next year. It is designed to eventually create up to 50,000 semi-trailers per year, which represents a huge production capacity in the world of large platforms. Nikola also unveiled three different models, including the Nikola One long-range sleeper cab, the Nikola Two for shorter uses and the Nikola Tre, which will be available with a choice of hydrogen system or batteries for shorter journeys. .

"About 90 percent of all incoming orders are delivered to hydrogen, the remaining 10 percent being to electricity," Milton said. "The good thing about Nikola is that we are the only company that can say yes, we offer both and we will keep it to you, according to your needs."

(In parallel, Nikola filed a lawsuit against Tesla in a federal court in Arizona last year, claiming that the design of his Semi unveiled in November 2017 was far too close to the Nikola One, which had debuted in public more than a year ago.Tesla tried to prosecution dismissed, but litigation continues and may not be resolved until 2020.) & nbsp; & nbsp; & nbsp;

There is no doubt that Nikola's aspirations may exceed his abilities, but it will take years to know for sure.

In 2006, when the initial management team of Musk and Tesla presented a meaningless vision to transform the automotive sector with a new generation of electric cars, few of them during its public debut in Santa Monica , California, thought that success was there. Thirteen years later, Musk's mission is not over, but Tesla has achieved much more than expected and pushed its automotive competitors to switch to electric.

If Milton achieved half as much as hydrogen, as automakers continued to develop their fuel cell offerings as hydrogen spread into new applications, the impact would be dramatic.

Nikola"s Counterfeiting against Tesla

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Nikola hydrogen truck

The Nikola semi-trailers with hydrogen, generating no pollution, could cross the United States in a few years if the bet of 1.5 billion dollars of the company bears fruit. Nikola Motor

Hydrogen has been a promising but elusive fuel for half a century, fueling a whole range of fuel cell cars and SUVs, but never completely solving the cost and efficiency problems and the lack of service stations. make it less attractive than the batteries of zero emission vehicles. The problem is not technology, says start-up founder Ariola Nikola Motor, but big trucks are a much better choice for hydrogen.

The 4-year-old manufacturer of hydrogen semitrailers claims a vision as brazen as the one unveiled 13 years ago by the founders of Tesla with its expensive 100% electric cars: Nikola will act as a catalyst to bring the world to market. hydrogen to the general public. Thousands of large hydrogen engines and a network of hydrogen stations from one ocean to another to power them. He also wants automakers such as Toyota, General Motors, Honda, Hyundai and Daimler to use these stations to expand their sales of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles beyond California.

It will not be cheap: Nikola is asking for $ 1.25 billion to fund it, in addition to the $ 300 million raised so far, said CEO Trevor Milton Forbes. He will be attending a conference this week on hydrogen technology in Scottsdale, Arizona, bringing together suppliers, partners, potential investors, future customers and automakers to inspire enthusiasm and win strong allies.

NikolaMilton

Nikola CEO Trevor Milton at the unveiling of the company's Nikola One truck.Nikola Motor

"You can not do this alone. Toyota and others can not do it alone and neither can we, "he said. "What Nikola brings is that we are providing the entire network, we are building 700 hydrogen stations across America. It will be the largest in the world.

Milton pushes trucks because it is easier to pack large tanks that contain compressed hydrogen than cars, the costs of technology are easier to recover than cars and that the refueling time and autonomy are comparable to those of diesel trucks. It will compete with several companies preparing battery trucks, including Tesla – which has signed with Pepsi, Anheuser Busch, FedEx, Walmart as customers – as well as Daimler, BYD and the startup Thor. But he sees a big advantage for Nikola's hydrogen fuel cell system for long-haul journeys on a highway of 500 km or more: it's much lighter than the Elon Musk's battery-powered Tesla Semi.

"Hydrogen works much better on heavy trucks, and we're 5,000 pounds lighter than Tesla," he said. Look at Anheuser Busch. They ordered 40 or 50 trucks from them and 800 from us. In fact, he says Nikola has leased $ 14 billion worth of leases from major shippers, including Anheuser Busch and US Express, each with a seven-year lease. $ 1 million.

"We are out of stock for eight years of production," said Milton, who worked for Worthington Industries, a steel and metals processing plant, and sold low-emission fuel systems for vehicles. heavy to the German company DHybrid engineering before founding Nikola.

But none of these orders turns into sales until Nikola completes its fundraising campaign and goes into production, its goal being the end of the 2022s. Its refueling network, including autonomous stations distributing hydrogen extracted from water, uses electricity generated by wind, solar and other renewable sources. will take a lot of the 2020s to put in place. The next three years will be difficult and will require uninterrupted expenses from unproven start-up. But its success would benefit companies that have been buying hydrogen for years, increasing the chances of getting industry support that Milton is looking for.

Nikola card substation

Nikola plans to build 700 service stations in the United States over the next decade, producing zero-emission hydrogen from water using electricity from renewable sources.Nikola Motor

Sales of electric cars are increasing worldwide with the rising cost of batteries and components, with Tesla in the lead, and more and more trucks and electric buses are finding their way into the streets of the country. big cities and ports. But the physics of long-range semi-trailers, carrying up to 80,000 pounds (cab and trailer), means the winning technology is still not winning.

"If you want to electrify heavy trucks, a class 8 truck requires seven tons or 700 kilowatt hours of battery, which makes four to five packages to be stored in the truck. In comparison, a few hundred kilograms of hydrogen are used in the same range, "said Bernd Heid, senior partner at McKinsey & Company, who researches trends and technology in the trucking industry .

Likewise, batteries require a lot more recharge time than hydrogen or conventional diesel fuel. With diesel, every minute of fuel provides a range of 20 miles for a big truck, while with hydrogen, a minute of fuel provides a range of 12 miles, calculates Heid. For a battery-powered truck, every minute of charging only provides 3 miles, he said. So for a truck to travel 500 miles, it takes about 25 minutes for a diesel, 42 minutes for hydrogen and potentially more than two and a half hours for a battery truck. (Musk said Tesla will have a network of "Megachargers" that will provide a range of 400 km in 30 minutes to its futuristic semi, its batteries being connected to individual chargers to recharge simultaneously.)

"Trucking is a business that works ideally around the clock," said Heid. "Every minute or hour you do not rest, it pays nothing. The time of charging or charging is a huge impact on the business. "

Fuel cell and battery powered vehicles are both electric, sharing the same engines and many other components. The essential difference is that batteries store electricity and that fuel cells produce it on board as needed, according to an electrochemical process that extracts electrons from forced hydrogen through fuel cell membranes. . Apart from electricity, the only byproduct is water vapor rather than the harmful exhaust gases of diesel. Beyond cars and trucks, they have been used by NASA for decades, they operate as fixed electric generators and are under development to power trains and even ships and ferries.

For battery cars, it is relatively simple to create a public charging infrastructure that allows drivers to start when they are parked, but even a quick charge can take 30 minutes or more. Fuel cell cars can be refueled at about the same time as those running on gasoline, although the number of public stations distributing compressed hydrogen in California, which counts the most, does not is currently only 37, clustered in the Los Angeles Bay area and Los Angeles. Orange County and up to San Diego. Dozens more are planned, but like the vast network of supercharges that Musk has built for Tesla owners, the goal of the 700 Nikola resorts would change the game for travel across the country.

"If the expansion of hydrogen infrastructure in the United States is suddenly annoying, that's a big problem," said Craig Scott, national director of Toyota's leading-edge US technology group. "It would be a very good thing to have more open hydrogen stations – more, that's more."

Toyota has been selling Mirai hydrogen sedans in California and Japan for a few years, and operates two fuel cell trucks at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, and other projects are underway. It even builds a hydrogen plant in ports, producing fuel from waste, to power its fleet.

Nikola Tre

The Nikola Tre will be offered with a choice of hydrogen system or batteries for shorter trips. Nikola Motor

Milton will develop this week a strategy that will take a good part of the decade to materialize. This includes the preparation of a 500-acre site for its plant located outside of Phoenix, with housing projects beginning early next year. It is designed to eventually create up to 50,000 semi-trailers per year, which represents a huge production capacity in the world of large platforms. Nikola also unveiled three different models, including the Nikola One long-range sleeper cab, the Nikola Two for shorter uses and the Nikola Tre, which will be available with a choice of hydrogen system or batteries for shorter journeys. .

"About 90 percent of all incoming orders are delivered to hydrogen, the remaining 10 percent being to electricity," Milton said. "The good thing about Nikola is that we are the only company that can say yes, we offer both and we will keep it to you, according to your needs."

(In parallel, Nikola filed a lawsuit against Tesla in a federal court in Arizona last year, claiming that the design of his Semi unveiled in November 2017 was far too close to the Nikola One, which had debuted in public more than a year ago.Tesla tried to prosecution dismissed, but litigation continues and may not be resolved until 2020.)

There is no doubt that Nikola's aspirations may exceed his abilities, but it will take years to know for sure.

In 2006, when the initial management team of Musk and Tesla presented a meaningless vision to transform the automotive sector with a new generation of electric cars, few of them during its public debut in Santa Monica , California, thought that success was there. Thirteen years later, Musk's mission is not over, but Tesla has achieved much more than expected and pushed its automotive competitors to switch to electric.

If Milton achieved half as much as hydrogen, as automakers continued to develop their fuel cell offerings as hydrogen spread into new applications, the impact would be dramatic.

Nikola"s Counterfeiting against Tesla


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