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Nikola Has Started Building Battery-Electric Semi-Trucks

Nikola announced that production of its first battery-electric semi-truck is underway at its Analyst Day presentation, and the news has had an extremely positive effect on the company's stock price.

Alternative fuel commercial truck manufacturer Nikola has announced that production is underway for its first major offering, a battery-electric semi-truck known as the Tre. The assembly line reportedly powered up for the first time on Monday March 23rd, though Nikola waited until its Analyst Day presentation on March 23rd to make the big reveal. The initial version of the Tre BEV is intended as a short-haul workhorse, with an effective range of 350 miles.

Image showing a front three-quarter view of the Nikola Tre, which recently entered production.Stock Price
The effect of the news on Nikola's stock price has been resoundingly positive, with a jump from $9.14 to $10.75 on Thursday following the announcement. The price fell slightly on Friday but has since returned to the $10.40 mark, totaling an 18% gain over the past five days. Nikola says it has received 450 orders for the Tre and that deliveries to customers should begin in Q2 of 2022, with an estimated 3000-3500 to be delivered by year's end. The Tre is built at Nikola's factory in Coolidge, Arizona.

Image showing the interior of the Nikola Tre, complete with large screen tilted towards the driver.Nikola Tre Specs
Underpinning the Nikola Tre is Iveco's "S-way" platform, which promises enhanced comfort for drivers and improved connectivity for fleet operations. Like many heavy haulers, the Tre features a trio of axles, with the middle one putting down the equivalent of 645 horsepower. The BEV version of the Tre comes equipped with a 753 kWh battery pack comprised of nine modules, and can charge from 10-80% in 120 minutes at a 240 kW charger. Top speed is limited to 75 mph, and gross vehicle weight is yet to be disclosed.

Related: Rivian Delivery Van Prototype Spotted Charging In The Wild

Future Versions
Nikola also plans to build Tre variants powered by hydrogen fuel cells, and says that it has received 800 orders for the FCEV version which it will start delivering in 2023. Capable of a 500-mile range, the Tre FCEV will be able to fully refuel in 20 minutes. Nikola also has plans for a longer-range truck known as the Two, which features the same hydrogen FCEV setup as well as a sleeper cab and a 900-mile range with the same refueling time. Deliveries of the long-haul-focused Two should begin in 2024 if all goes to plan.

Image showing a Nikola Two semi-truck with sleeper cab, powered by a hydrogen fuel cell powertrain.European Operations
In addition to the Coolidge plant, Nikola plans to build trucks in Europe at Iveco's complex in Ulm, Germany. The factory is currently under construction, and will be capable of building 2000 vehicles a year when it opens. If all goes to plan the factory will eventually be expanded to build up to 10,000 trucks a year. The factory's first 25 trucks are scheduled for delivery to the Hamburg Port Authority during 2022.

Related: US Battery Manufacturer Shows Off 750-Mile Pack, Secures $65 Million Funding Led BY BMW

News of production commencing is reassuring for Nikola's investors, who in July 2021 fretted as the company's founder and former CEO Trevor Milton was indicted on criminal fraud charges over a faked demonstration which allegedly helped to raise $500 million in funding for the company. Prosecutors believe that the video, which purported to show a prototype Nikola One driving under its own power, was staged by towing the truck to the top of a hill and filming it as it rolled down. Milton allegedly used the tape to make it look like Nikola was further ahead in development than it really was, and was reportedly well aware that the video was staged. He was released on $100 million bail after surrendering himself to the authorities.

Images by Nikola licensed by CC BY 2.0.

James Walker is an Automotive Journalist at Torque News focusing on Lucid Motors. If it's got wheels he's interested, and he's looking forward to seeing what kind of cars the EV revolution brings us. Whether it's fast, slow, new, or old, James wants to have a look around it and share it in print and on video, ideally with some twisty roads involved. You can connect with James on Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.