Nikola has yet to deliver even one of its promised hydrogen fuel-cell semi trucks, but on Monday the company announced an order for 2,500 battery-electric garbage trucks.
The trucks will go to waste-disposal company Republic Services, in what Republic claims to be the first large-scale commitment to fleet electrification in its industry.
On-road testing is scheduled to begin in 2022, with full production “shortly after,” Nikola said. Republic expects to take delivery of the first trucks in 2023, and has an option to expand the order to 5,000 units.
Based on the Nikola Tre, the trucks will have a range of 150 miles—enough to pick up 1,200 cans of garbage—and will recharge overnight, according to Nikola. The battery-electric powertrain will be “limited” to 1,000 horsepower, which Nikola claims is three times the power of natural-gas and diesel trucks. That seems like a lot of power for a vehicle that will spend most of its time trundling down city streets.
In its press release, Republic touted the instant torque of electric motors (which should be helpful in stop-start city driving) lack of noise and exhaust emissions, and lower maintenance costs. That spells out why battery-electric powertrains are well suited to municipal vehicles.
Yet these garbage trucks omit what Nikola is supposedly building its business model around—a hydrogen network for long-haul operations.
Nikola’s Badger pickup also packs a large battery—as well as a fuel-cell stack. The Badger, which has racked up thousands of reservations but hasn’t been fully revealed yet, is intended to use the same hydrogen stations as Nikola’s semi trucks for longer trips, and rely on battery power for shorter trips.
In July, Nikola broke ground on an Arizona factory that, the company claims, will eventually build 35,000 vehicles per year. So far, though, Nikola hasn’t delivered a single vehicle yet.
Its larger heavy-duty trucks will also arrive to multiple rivals from traditional truckmakers like PACCAR, Freightliner, and Volvo Trucks.