Nikola Motor and Nel Hydrogen consider expanding their planned US refuelling network from 16 sites to 28
Norwegian electrolyser maker Nel Hydrogen has announced a new purchase order from Nikola Motor, as part of the truck manufacturer’s plans to build a hydrogen refuelling network across the US.
Nel and Nikola first announced their partnership in November last year, when the Utah-based company announced its intention to build a 2,000-mile, 16-station refuelling network for its vehicles. Nel was contracted as the sole equipment supplier for the process, for the supply of engineering, electrolysis, and fuelling equipment, while Nikola would provide the balance of plant, construction, dispensers and other station equipment.
Two of these stations are already under construction, the companies said at the time.
On April 3 Nikola announced it had made an additional purchase order worth around US$5.5 million. Yet it also revealed that the two are “now evaluating if the initial station number should be doubled to 28 stations.”
It’s possible that rising demand for electric trucking – as seen by the recent successes of Tesla’s Semi and Workhorse’s UPS partnership – has made potential expansion of the refuelling network economic.
According to Nikola CEO Trevor Milton, this would seem to be the case. Milton remarked that:
“The Nikola hydrogen electric semi-trucks will begin testing with fleets in 2019 and begin full production in 2021. One of the most respected brands in America just signed an order with Nikola to convert 100% of their fleet over to Nikola trucks. This will require an additional 28 more stations to go up to support those efforts on top of the existing Nel purchase order. Nel has been a great partner to work with and we are excited to begin replacing diesels in America with zero emission trucks.”
However, Nikola could also be pre-empting any potential concerns over whether the US’ hydrogen network is large enough to support demand for FCEVs in the first place. Commercial haulage firms are unlikely to buy into hydrogen trucking if there aren’t enough places to fill up.
In any case, the trucks which are on the road are likely to work up quite a thirst; each Nikola One is anticipated to consume around 50-75 kg of hydrogen per day, storing between two and three MWh of energy.
There will also be other commercial retail opportunities, with Nikola having confirmed that it will allow all hydrogen vehicles to fill at its stations.