Nikola Motors has partnered with IVECO to establish the manufacturing hub for its first production vehicle in Ulm, Germany. The facility will produce both the battery electric and fuel cell electric versions of the the company’s cab-over heavy duty truck for the European market, the Nikola TRE.
IVECO and parter company FPT Industrial are the commercial vehicle and powertrain brands of parent company CNH Industrial. If the name sounds familiar, it’s because CNH Industrial rolled a cool $250 million investment into Nikola Motors just a few months ago in September 2019. Leveraging the heavy truck manufacturing prowess of IVECO was clearly the plan and indeed, the current version of the Nikola TRE that’s in development is directly based on IVECO’s S-Way platform.
“Our European joint-venture with NIKOLA and today’s announcement, is real proof that zero-emission long-haul transport is becoming a reality, resulting in tangible environmental benefits for Europe’s long distance hauliers and its citizens,” said Hubertus Mühlhäuser, Chief Executive Officer, CNH Industrial. “The decision to build the Nikola TRE in Ulm – a center of heavy-duty truck engineering excellence – underscores the site’s strategic location at the heart of Germany’s fuel cell technology cluster.”
The company notes that the battery electric version of the Nikola TRE is being viewed as the predecessor to the fuel cell electric vehicle build as it will establish many of the core components shared in both vehicles. Both the battery electric and fuel cell electric configuration will use electric motors to move the vehicle forward as well as a large battery used to power those motors. In the battery electric version, the vehicle can even use the same battery as in the fuel cell electric configuration with a reduced range. Alternately, the primary battery could be scaled up to achieve longer ranges, depending on the specific use case.
The battery electric version of the Nikola TRE will initially be available as a 4×2 and 6×2 articulated truck with modular batteries that can be sized to meet the needs of the customer, up to 720 kWh. The electric powertrain responsible for all the heavy lifting when it comes time to work can lay down 480 kW of continuous power output.
IVECO currently performs chassis engineering at its facility in Ulm, Germany which is located in the heart of the Germany automotive industry and in the state of Baden-Württemberg. The region is also home to Porsche, Daimler, Bosch, and saw the world’s first 4-wheeled combustion engine-powered vehicle come into existence.
The area has a rich history not only in the automotive industry, but in technology. Being close to legacy automotive companies and their suppliers make the area even more attractive as the German auto industry pivots en masse towards the next-generation of automotive powertrain technologies.
The new joint venture will kick off with a €40 million investment into the existing Ulm facility to prepare it to be used as the final assembly point of the Nikola TRE. The companies expect production to start at the new facility in Q1 2021, with the first deliveries of the first battery electric trucks following closely behind. Hydrogen fuel cell electric configurations of the TRE will be built leveraging the EU-funded H2Haul project in 2021 with plans to make it to the market in 2023.