What Nikola does differently from MAN and Daimler Truck

What Nikola does differently from MAN and Daimler Truck

While Nikola is struggling to get off the ground, the e-trucks from Arizona are already rolling on the highways. Next up is Europe, not good news for MAN and Daimler Truck.

The Inflation Reduction Act, often criticised in Europe as protectionism, creates favourable conditions for US companies. Nikola wants to take advantage of this tailwind. While Tesla's semi-truck is often on the tow hook, Nikola's electric trucks are already rolling on US roads. The company has already delivered 258 such BEV trucks, and later this year the first hydrogen truck is to make its debut. The giant brewery Anheuser & Busch wants to bring its famous Budweiser beer to customers in the USA in 800 Nikola trucks. The energy company GP Joule has also ordered 100 such vehicles.

 While other start-ups fail to get just one vehicle ready for series production, Nikola plans to have two by the end of the year. That harbours the danger of getting bogged down. Michael Lohscheller disagrees: "We can do it. And he immediately gives the reason: "We are a tech company and concentrate on the essentials." 

Mobile refuelling is considerably more complex when it comes to hydrogen. Here, too, the Nikola engineers have found the Egg of Columbus in two years of development. "This is the first mobile charger on the market that works at 700 bar," explains Michael Archibald, head of the global hydrogen charging infrastructure. Known components form the basis, while the software and control modules come from Nikola. The main unit is on a 16-metre trailer, while a second trailer with a 500-kilogram tank provides the hydrogen supply. A huge compressor presses the gas into the truck's tanks at -40 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 40 degrees Celsius) with 875 bar. The pressure buffer is necessary because the gas volatilises. Within 20 to 30 minutes, about 40 kilogrammes are filled up. In the future, this should happen much faster. We picked up the nozzle ourselves and got to grips with it straight away. Four such rolling hydrogen filling stations are currently planned, the first one is already in use at the freezing cold winter tests in Smithers (Michigan). If the Nikola plan works out, it won't be the last.

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