Nikola partners with CNH on fuel-cell trucks


Nikola Motor Company is to partner with CNH Industrial to speed up the arrival of its hydrogen fuel cell-powered trucks on the North American and European markets.

CNH Industrial, which owns IVECO and engine maker FPT Industrial, will be investing $250m (£203m) in Nikola Motor Company under the agreement.

Nikola Motor Company CEO Trevor Milton stated back in April at the global launch of the model line-up that he was looking for a partnership with an established heavy truck manufacturer to benefit from a ready-made manufacturing and engineering base with an existing support network.

The immediate priorities for Nikola Motor Company will be the industrialisation of the Nikola TWO, the day-cabbed North American model, and the incorporation of technology from the newly launched IVECO S-WAY (pictured, left) into the European-style TRE (right).

Interestingly, the announcement only refers to the TRE as a battery-electric vehicle, while the TWO will be fuel cell-powered.

“The time has come to finally provide a zero-emission solution to the heavyduty truck market,” commented Milton. “While other OEMs believe zero-emission solutions cannot happen in the timeframe regulators have mandated, Nikola, FPT Industrial and IVECO are proving that these timelines are not unreasonable.

“Nikola has the technology but needs a partner with a European network to achieve it in a timely manner. With CNH Industrial’s investment and partnership, we can now bring zero-emission trucks to Europe.

“It is exciting to see IVECO taking the lead in zero-emission solutions in Europe through its partnership with Nikola,” he went on. “By bringing CNH Industrial on board, we now have access to manufacturing know-how, purchasing power, validated truck parts, plant engineering and much more. Few will doubt our ability to commercialise a truck now.”

Nikola has also revealed two more suppliers joining the same round of investments. Vehicle component and system manufacturer Bosch, and Hanwha, which makes the solar panels that Nikola uses to generate the clean electricity needed to produce hydrogen for its supply infrastructure, have between them invested another $230m (£186m).

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Hyundai will put 1,600 hydrogen fuel cell trucks on Swiss roads in five years


Hyundai will put 1,600 hydrogen fuel cell trucks on the road in Switzerland in the next five years, and has plans to sell them in various other European countries too. 

The 4x2 and 6x2 H2 XCIENT rigid trucks, the first 50 of which will hit Swiss roads in 2020, will be supplied though Hyundai Hydrogen Mobility (HMM), a joint venture between Hyundai Motor Company and H2 Energy. They will be powered by 100% green hydrogen, produced by Hydrospider, a collaboration between Alpiq, H2 Energy and Linde. 

The business model sees Swiss hauliers taking the trucks on eight-year contracts, paying on a per km basis. According to Mark Freymuller, president of commercial vehicle eco-friendly business development at Hyundai Motor Company, this fee will include the truck, maintenance, battery replacement and hydrogen supply, “which makes it much easier for customers to replace diesel trucks without worrying”. He explained that HMM will establish a fuelling infrastructure, using existing fuel stations to keep costs down, and “solving the age old chicken and egg problem”. 

While HMM will attempt to make the trucks as cost-effective as possible, Rolf Huber, chairman of H2 Energy, acknowledged that in most cases the hydrogen trucks will have a slightly higher TCO than equivalent diesel trucks. “If you’re looking for the cheapest truck, this probably isn’t it,” he said, before explaining that the more miles a customer covers, the smaller the gap in cost between hydrogen and diesel. He said they start by understanding their potential customers’ businesses, and calculate their current TCOs. “Then once we have a benchmark, we try our hardest to match it, which involves some negotiating,” he added. 

The negotiating seems to work, as according to Freymuller “the smallest of all the problems we face is attracting customers”. He said the first batch of 50 trucks all have hauliers waiting, and he sees no issue with finding customers for the other 1,550 due by 2025. In fact, the company is also talking to potential customers in the Netherlands, Austria, Germany and France, and expects to expand out of Switzerland in 2020. Huber explained that target countries are those with financial incentives for operating the cleanest trucks. 

But one potential problem the company faces is setting up an aftersales network. It immediately ruled out piggy-backing on the car network, so instead is looking for European partners. 

Edward Lee, executive vice president of Hyundai Motor Company’s CV business division, said: “We believe this is the fuel for the next 100 years, and Hyundai will be the biggest player. This is the core business for our company.” 


Tech spec

Hyundai H2 XCIENT 4x2

GVW: 19 tonnes

GTW: 34 tonnes

Motor: 350kW

Fuel cell: 190kW

Range: 400km

Hydrogen tank size: 34.5kg

Time to refuel: 8 minutes