Tesla Semi rival Nikola dubs future fleet as US’ ‘largest air purifiers’ amid hiring ramp

As the Tesla Semi continues to undergo real-world testing in preparation for its initial production in 2019, rival startup company Nikola Motor has claimed that its future fleet will be the United States’ “largest air purifiers,” thanks to their hydrogen fuel cell systems. Nikola’s announcement comes amidst the company’s current initiatives to ramp its hiring activities for its facilities in Arizona.

No stranger to bold declarations on Twitter, Nikola noted that due to its vehicles’ hydrogen fuel cell system, its fleet of trucks would be able to clean the air as they drive across America. In a later tweet, the trucking startup also assured its social media followers that it does not use methane to produce hydrogen. Rather, it utilizes a combination of solar, wind, and hydropower to make the hydrogen needed to power its upcoming fleet.

A following tweet from the company also gave a first look at the fuel cell that would be used for the Nikola One sleeper semi-trailer, as well as the Nikola Two daycab. The trucking startup and budding Tesla Semi rival further noted that a Nikola truck would have two 120 kW systems, which should provide its trucks with a considerable degree of power.

Recent reports have further revealed that Nikola is starting to ramp its hiring as it prepares to start producing its highly-anticipated hydrogen-electric truck. Since moving to the Phoenix area from Utah in July, the company has employed about 70 people in Chandler as it constructs its new headquarters in Phoenix. By the end of the year, Nikola aims to have 100 employees, and by the end of 2019, the trucking startup is seeking to employ about 200 workers.

Nikola Motor chief legal officer Britton Worthen noted in a statement to AZ Central that it expects to break ground on its planned 1 million-square-foot manufacturing plant in Coolidge, AZ, in about two years. At a talk on Friday, the Nikola executive pointed out to Pinal County economic development officials that the upcoming facility would be complete in about five years. Over this time, Nikola also plans to start the expansion of its hydrogen fueling stations, which the company expects will be the ‘largest energy consumer’ in the US within the next ten years.

Nikola Motors is no stranger to bold statements. Earlier this year, the company announced that it would be refunding all the reservations it received for the Nikola One and Nikola Two. Seemingly throwing shade at Tesla, the trucking startup further noted that it does not “use (customers’) money to operate (its) business.” Nikola has declared that it currently has $11 billion in pre-production orders as well.

The Nikola One hydrogen-electric truck. 

Over the past few months, though, Nikola started to adopt a more aggressive stance against Tesla. Earlier this year, the company filed a $2 billion lawsuit against the electric car maker, claiming that the Tesla Semi violated its design patents for the Nikola One. In its lawsuit, the trucking startup alleged that the Tesla Semi copied the Nikola One’s wraparound windshield, mid-entry door, front fenders, and the electric truck’s aerodynamic body. Furthermore, the trucking startup claimed that the similar designs of the Semi and the One puts its reputation at risk, since Tesla has had “problems with its batteries starting fires and its autonomous features causing fatal accidents.”

Nikola’s patent lawsuit met a notable roadblock in August, though, as the US Patent Office granted Tesla its own design patents for the Tesla Semi, with the US patent examiner even using the Nikola One as a comparison point for the all-electric long-hauler. Thus, if Nikola chooses to pursue its case against Tesla, it would have to prove that the US patent examiner made a mistake. Such a feat is very challenging to accomplish.

Its legal moves against Tesla aside, Nikola is nonetheless setting the stage of a grand, three-day event in April 2019, which would feature the unveiling of the pre-production models of its hydrogen-electric trucks. A 2.3-megawatt hydrogen fueling station, which would serve as a model for the company’s upcoming network of H2 refilling stations, is also expected to be unveiled.

Tesla Semi rival Nikola dubs future fleet as US’ ‘largest air purifiers’ amid hiring ramp
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