Nikola Motor Company Seeks Tesla Fandom With Vaporous 1200-Mile Range Hybrid Semi-Truck

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It looks as though a new competitor is looking to charge into the electrified vehicle market. Whereas Tesla Motors is squarely aimed at the passenger vehicle market with high-priced full EVs like the Model S and Model X, Nikola Motors (clearly a nod to Tesla) has its sights set much higher on the world of long-haul transportation.

The headlining vehicle from this new startup is the Nikola One, a semi-truck that combines electric motors with a natural-gas-fed turbine that recharges the vehicle’s 320 kWh battery pack. Total system output is pegged at 2,000hp with 3,700 lb-ft of torque. The company claims that this powertrain combo (which never has to be plugged into a wall) will give the Nikola One a driving range of between 800 to 1200 miles. The finished vehicle is said to be “many times cleaner” than today’s diesel rigs and will have fuel costs half that of modern diesel semi-trucks.

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While these specs sound good, you still need sufficient infrastructure to refill the massive compressed natural gas (CNG) tanks that would fuel the Nikola One. To that end, Nikola Motors says that it plans to build its own network of roughly 50 CNG stations that will be located across the United States. For reference, Tesla has over 600 Supercharger stations worldwide.

For something not as groundbreaking, Nikola Motors is also touting its “Zero” off-roader that features a 50 kWh battery and 520 total horsepower. The vehicle is said to hit 60 mph in just three seconds and has a driving range of 100 to 150 miles.

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As impressive as all of this sounds right now, the Nikola One and Zero appear to little more than renders on a website — albeit good-looking renders. All the details and schematics are laid out, but both products are far from reaching production levels. Keeping that in mind, The Nikola One will be priced at $375,000 and the company is currently taking down deposits of $1,500 (for reference, Tesla is taking $1,000 deposits for its $35,000 Model 3). The Nikola Zero will be priced at $42,000, with deposits ringing in at $750.

Unfortunately, this seems like a pretty big gamble for what essentially amounts to vaporware right now – a much bigger gamble than the folks that have doubts that Tesla can get Model 3 production started before the end of 2017.