Trucking is one of the largest industries on the planet, employing 3.5 million drivers and using 53.9 billion gallons of fuel every year in the US alone.
Reducing the industry’s carbon footprint is clearly a top priority for anyone committed to making the world we live in much greener — and, recognising incoming regulations and subsidies, the market has begun a push towards electrics.
The trouble is range. Most electric vehicles can only manage a short distances, which is not an issue during city driving, but unworkable for cross-country transit. This is related to the infrastructure problem — there are not enough charging points around the country to reliably power the vehicles — and the price problem, in which access to an efficient and affordable battery for the trucks is difficult.
Enter Trevor Milton, the founder and CEO of Nikola — a motor company focused on a zero emission “Class 8” truck that lowers fuel costs for truckers.
Understanding that hydrogen fuel cells have a significant weight advantage compared to batteries — a big draw for those hauling large amounts of freight across a country — he has generated 14,000 preorders for Nikola’s first zero-emissioned truck.
Tre has a 750-mile (1200km) range, while weighing less, and emitting only water. This is aided by innovative design features: The truck comes equipped with a mirrorless camera system, instead of wing mirrors, allowing the vehicles to be more aerodynamic.
In addition, refuelling takes only 15 minutes, compared to the many hours necessary to fast-charge regular EV batteries.
“When I first started this back in 2012, nothing about zero-emission trucks was cool,” Milton said in a video with MouserElectronics’ series, Engineering Big Ideas. “No one even thought about it.
“The investors I went to talk to told me I was crazy. And what ended up happening was the diesel scandal had really hit and in that moment the world realised the diesel world was cheating emissions standards.
“When the truck came out and all the orders started coming in, that’s when I knew we were onto something.”
Nikola says it’s working with competitors in the field to develop the charging infrastructure that other hydrogen-powered vehicles could make use of.
“If you’ve got something and you feel like you’ve made the right decision and the wind’s in your back, just attack it and go at it. And if you fail, fail graciously,” Milton adds in the video.
“And what’ll happen is that will morph you into something better. You’ll get back up and you’re gonna do it again and you’re gonna fail graciously. Every time you fail it means you’ve got guts to learn something that someone else is too afraid to learn. You’re that much closer to success — and when you get it, damn it feels good.”Tags: Electric vehicle, Trucking, US