Iveco, owned by the CNH group is the smallest of the large traditional truck manufacturers in Europe. It competes with the might of Daimler, Volkswagen and Volvo in the European truck market. The latter three have made huge investments in electric and fuel cell vehicles and are expected to offer Full Battery Electric (BEV) and Fuel Cell Electric (FCEV) trucks in the Europe from 2020 onwards. In order to compete, Iveco has taken a stake in the American electric truck startup Nikola. Iveco has invested to the tune of US$ 250 million in Nikola.
The joint venture has come up with a prototype truck called the Nikola Tre which will offer both BEV and FCEV propulsion for trucks in Europe and USA. Within 3 months of the investment which comprises US $ 100 million in cash and US $ 150 million in services, the joint venture has introduced the prototype truck. They intend to start delivering the BEV trucks from 2021 and the FCEV trucks from 2023.
The Nikola Tre is expected to develop 1020 PS of power and 2,700 N-m of torque. They are expected to have a range between 500 and 1,200 Km. When using an FCEV propulsion, the Tre will need 10 to 15 minutes to refill the tanks for extending the range by another 500 to 1,200 Kms. Nikola claims that due to the nature of the electric motors, these trucks will accelerate at twice the rate of a conventional diesel truck. The trucks have drive by wire systems allowing for independent control of each wheel using torque vectoring leading to better efficiency and stability. Also as the batteries would be installed at the lowest portion or the truck they will have a low center of gravity leading to further stability.
Nikola offers a digital cockpit where most of the functions are controlled using a 17″ central touch screen display. They are installed with advanced active and passive driver assistance systems. Nikola offers the Tre with an air disc brake system supported by regenerative braking to offer a faster response and better stopping power.
Countries in Europe have established very ambitious targets for reduction of green house gases. The aim is to reduce CO2 by 15% from 2019 levels by 2025 and 30% by 2030. To achieve such figures, companies will be forced to offer alternative propulsion for commercial vehicles.