The electric pickup truck will be able to operate 100 percent on the fuel cells, battery, or both.
The Nikola Badger can already be reserved, as we told you on June 29, but there are still some questions left unanswered. Where will it be sold: in all states? Who will produce it? How will it work in its FCEV version? Trevor Milton, the company’s CEO, spoke to the press before breaking ground to the Coolidge factory, in Arizona, and InsideEVs managed to learn more about the electric pickup truck.
You already know it will not be manufactured in Coolidge. It will be produced by a partner automaker that will very likely get its version of the Badger. FCA, also known as Stellantis, is the only big American automaker with no announced plans of an electric pickup truck, and the Badger is probably the reason why. We’ll soon know more about that.
Apart from that, Milton said the BEV version of the Badger would be sold in all US states by 2022. The FCEV will not: it will only be sold in the same places where Nikola will place its first hydrogen stations, which are linked to the deal it has with Anheuser-Busch Inbev.
“The fuel cell will be on a slow roll-out plan. It is going to go on the markets where the fuel cell semi-truck and hydrogen stations are going in. Why? Because we will use all stations as our main production and we will distribute the hydrogen to the cities for people to be able to fill up the Badger. So most likely we will be starting in California, heavily, and moving into other cities and they’ll follow the routes of the Anheuser-Busch contracts that we have for the fuel cell semi-truck. If you want to know where Badger is going to be released in the fuel cell version first, you can follow the routes where the Anheuser-Busch distribution models are.”
Neither the brewery nor Nikola have disclosed any states in which the Nikola Two and One will start to operate. Anyway, in 2018, Milton said he expected to have 700 stations in the US by 2028. In case you know more about “where the Anheuser-Busch distribution models are,” don’t forget to tell us more. What we can say for sure is that the Badger FCEV will only be available from 2023 on. For the customers willing to wait for it, Milton may have good news:
“I would imagine we will probably include hydrogen in the purchase of the Badger. That’s to be released later, but I would imagine anyone buying a badger is going to get hydrogen included in that for a period of time for the early adopters to have a huge advantage.”
Nikola’s CEO told the press an enticing detail of how these FCEVs truck will work.
“The fuel cell on the Badger can work independently of the battery itself. The fuel-cell Badger actually has a battery onboard. A very large one: more than 100 kWh. So what that means is that you get over 300 mi of range on the battery and another 300 mi on the fuel cell. We’ll give the customer the ability to modify that on their screen. We’re the only ones in the world that I know of to have done this. There’s like a line and the customer can drag what the percentage is: a 100 percent battery, a 100 percent fuel cell, or a blend. It really depends on where they are going.”
Milton mentioned that this ability to change the source of energy on the Badger would not only be a matter of if you are driving in the city or on a long trip. The weather may also play a role in that choice.
“One of the cool things about the truck is that it allows the people to always operate on the fuel cell if they want, like if they are in very cold weather. They’re going to want to operate on fuel cells. They won’t want to operate on the batteries: you have 30 plus percent losses on the battery if you get into negative weather. With a fuel cell, you don’t. Also, it takes a long time to heat a cabin with a BEV in cold weather because you have to use a heater or a compressor to do that. With a fuel cell, it is using the hundreds of degrees of temperature coming out of the fuel cell to actually heat the cab.”
This heat could be seen as a waste of energy, just like it is on combustion-engined vehicles. The good thing is that it will come from clean hydrogen, which Nikola promises to sell at an attractive price. If everything goes according to plan – and no battery technology offers 600 mi of range with less weight and lower costs – the Badger may become a great option for those that do not stand burning anything, especially diesel.