Nikola announced recently that they have electric semi-trucks which are ready to be delivered to its customers. Ahead of Tesla, the automaker is ready to launch its Semi trucks. However, as the current pace is low for production, the revenue is also expected to be modest.
“We have been a pre-revenue startup for years, where everything we spent we had to raise from investors,” Nikola CEO Mark Russell said at the event. “Today marks the day when we transition to customer deliveries. We have trucks that we can deliver to customers and get paid for. We’re now going to be a revenue-producing company and will be forever.”
Under Russell’s management, the company has tightened relations with industrial partners including Iveco, which supplies the Tre’s chassis, and Bosch, which is working with it on fuel cells for hydrogen trucks. Tests of battery-powered Tres began last year at the Port of Los Angeles and the company is targeting sales in regions such as Southern California where the Tre qualifies for an incentive for clean heavy-duty vehicles worth $120,000 per truck. With a European-style “day cab” Nikola says the Tre has the longest range of any electric semi on the market, getting 350 miles per charge from its 753 kWh pack. That’s a larger battery than any of its current competitors, including electric models from Peterbilt, Kenworth, Freightliner, BYD, Volvo, and Lion Electric.
Competing with Tesla
Nikola’s plant is located about 20 minutes from that of fellow EV startup Lucid Motors which recently began building high-end electric Air sedans in Casa Grande, Arizona. Last month, South Korea’s LG Energy Solutions also announced plans to make lithium-ion battery cells starting in 2024 at a new factory it will build in Queen Creek, a Phoenix suburb. Big rigs aren’t the only vehicle segment that competitors got to faster than Tesla. Musk’s decision to push back Cybertruck production to 2023 allowed EV startup Rivian to come to market first with its R1T model. This week Ford also began shipping its much-anticipated F-150 Lightning to customers, a battery-powered version of the best-selling U.S. vehicle for decades.
Along with making battery-powered Tres in Arizona, Nikola will also make the truck for European customers starting next year at a production line it set up at an Iveco plant in Ulm, Germany. That’s a reverse of Nikola’s plan a year ago. “We originally thought we might start exporting out of Germany first (to the U.S.) but as things evolved I don’t think we will,” Russell said. “You don’t make money by moving things across oceans.”